“Like Someone in Love”: A Master Observer Looks at Romance

Rightly worshiped as a master worldwide, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami lately has decided to take his show on the road. Three years ago he left Iran to make a film in Italy, Certified Copy, and now he's made Like Someone in Love in Japan. Both still bear a strong Kiarostami signature, relying on mindful, playful observation. Both look at how the roles people play in each other's lives tend to shift from scene to scene, alighting on temporary foundations, eluding both permanence and comprehension. The basic essence of Like Someone in Love is that a sociology student (Rin Takanashi) and her possessive boyfriend (Ryo Kase) drive around Tokyo with an elderly professor (Tadashi Okuno). The student is also a high-end escort, and the professor is also her client. Whatever else they know about each other, and whatever else we know about them, are matters of surmise. Kiarostami's gift is to make this seem inviting, at least until an abrupt ending in which the film seems to have cornered itself and quit. Still, there's no shortage of wonder in the filmmaker's great intuition about just how long he can push a long take, or a concept. The acting is superb, and cinematographer Katsumi Yanagijima clearly is on board with Kiarostami's ongoing project, gathering the glints and shadows playing across the glassy frontiers between the parallel worlds of art and life.

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