The 65th Cannes Film Festival is in full swing and reviews and news are coming out fast (check Bonjour Tristesse for more coverage – I’m going to copy his way of setting out the information here). We are midway through the festival and Japanese films get their premieres today with Like Someone in Love screening early in the day in competition and Ai to Makoto being screened later at midnight as part of the Midnight Screenings. First up is Like Somone in Love.
Day 6 – Like Someone in Love (In Competition)
Director: Abbas Kiarostami, Writer: Abbas Kiarostami, Starring: Rin Takanashi, Tadashi Okuno, Denden, Ryo Kase
Like Someone in Love is Abbas Kiarostami’s follow-up to Certified Copy. It is a French/Japanese co-production and it is the only Japanese language film In Competition at Cannes. It stars Rin Takanashi (Goth – Love of Death), television and theatre actor Tadashi Okuno, Denden (Cold Fish, Himizu) and Ryo Kase (SPEC: The Movie).
In Cannes were a radiant looking Rin Takanashi, Okuno, Kase and Kiarostami and although the press conference got off to a bumpy start it was rather interesting (although not as interesting as an earlier interview, some answers from which I have included). As expected the majority of questions were directed at Kiarostami until a plucky Japanese journalist appeared at the end and asked Okuno what it was like working with Kiarostami. Amusingly it was revealed that that Okuno doesn’t have a driving licence and yet he had to perform driving scenes. Anyway, quotes here:
Kiarostami’s relation to Japanese cinema: Kiarostami: “… When I started getting interested in films I used to go to the film library in Tehran and I used to watch a lot of Ozu’s films… Once I had become a director I realised I had been heavily influenced by Japanese films…”
On watching recent Japanese films: Kiarostami: “I couldn’t perceive Japanese soul and emotion. I perceived a tremendous influence of Hollywood film and these films were a poor copy. In terms of being impacted by contemporary Japanese films, no I wasn’t influenced… Maybe I didn’t watch the right contemporary Japanese films.”
On Ella Fitzgerald’s song and how much of an influence is Jazz: Kiarostami: “I don’t think that the importance of the music is paramount in the film… Music doesn’t play that major part. We are a generation that was marked by Jazz. The actors and producers were all familiar with Like Someone in Love.”
Kariostami on the ending: I felt that this can’t be the end of the film, there’s something unfinisned about it but we’ll see about it later. Time went by, more than six months elapsed but I didn’t find the end. When I sent this in for translation and I sent it to the producers I expected the producers to say your film doesn’t have an ending but then I realised that my film doesn’t have a beginning… and I realised that’s what happens in real life. No tale has a real beginning or ending.
Questions From an Earlier Interview Directed at Kiarostami:
Why Japan? “Why not? Because I found wonderful actors… The original idea came from an experience I had. One day I came across a young girl who was wearing a brides dress, she was in a neighbourhood of Tokyo… this was a student who was a prostitute so she could pay for her studies and that image struck me… and two years later when I went back to Tokyo I found the circumstances were conducive to making that scene.”
“Okuda couldn’t touch her. I wanted him to be much more personal but he was stubborn – his choice is an original choice and I had to respect that. If I had done that in another country I would have had to tell the actor to stop touching the actress so much.”
Why are there always scenes in cars? “Cars are an intimate setting and conversations always lead somewhere. In other areas, words just flutter away… when you’re in your car you are strapped down.”
Reviews are in and they are mixed. The actors are universally praised, particularly Takanashi and Okuno but, much like Certified Copy, the inexact nature of the film and Kiarostami’s refusal to offer a concrete ending have caused some consternation. Kiarostami has previously won the Palme d’Or for Taste of Cherry in 1997 but competition is stiff with Haneke looking on top form.
Where all the roleplaying ultimately leads is surprising to say the least, and viewers familiar with Kiarostami’s typically serene dramas will have another thing coming to them. Whether or not such a denouement ultimately convinces is another matter, and while it certainly represents an intriguing change of pace for the Iranian filmmaker, it takes things so far as to make one wonder whether the means entirely justify the ends here. Jordan Mintzer (The Hollywood Reporter)
In the end, though, we are never going to get any definitive answer from Kiarostami. It isn’t his objective to make a film that makes perfect sense. He wants you to reach inside knotty circumstances and try to untangle the threads of meaning for yourself. Whether you are up to the task or not will likely depend on your mood.
The film ends on a truncated, incomplete note — you never see it coming. But perhaps that’s the point. Life is random. Existence, fleeting. What you want, you’ll never have. What you can have you’ll never want. Sasha Stone (Awards Daily)
Not entirely satisfying as either an academic or an emotional exercise, “Like Someone in Love” offers its most complete pleasures as a quietly pristine showcase for Kiarostami’s undiminished craft, its most laborious stretches still wowing with their poised camera placement and confidently spare editing schemes. Guy Lodge (Variety)
There are some interesting ideas and sympathetic performances in a superbly shot and fascinatingly controlled exercise. There is potential. But the curtain comes down with an arbitrary crash just as the drama was becoming interesting. Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian)
As far as I am concerned I am intrigued by the film and any excuse to watch Rin Takanashi is most welcome.