Like Someone in Love (2012)

A beautiful film about human relationship that underlines how genuine connections can be found in unlikeliest of places

7/21/20234 min read

Rin Takanashi in Abbas Kiarostami's 'Like Someone in Love'
Rin Takanashi in Abbas Kiarostami's 'Like Someone in Love'

Japanese, 109 minutes, 2012

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Cast: Rin Takanashi, Tadashi Okuno, Ryo Kase, Denden

Awards: Nominated for Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival, 2012; Nominated for ‘Best International Film, Chicago Film Festival, 2012; Nominated for Beest Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Supporting Actor, Asian Film Awards, 2013

This France-Japan coproduction is master Iranian auteur, Abbas Kiarostami’s last film to be released in his life time. This is his second film made outside his native Iran, first being ‘Certified copy’ (also reviewed by this website). The film was screened in numerous festivals like in Toronto, Asian Film festival and in Cannes, where it was nominated for top prize.

The story of the film is quite simple and warm. Akiko (Rin Takanashi) is studying sociology in college and also works as a high profile call girl unknown to her folks in the city of Tokyo. One night, when she has to study for her exams and also wants to meet her grandmother who is waiting at station for her, she is sent to a client by her employer Hiroshi (Denden). Unwillingly, she complies.

The client happens to be an old professor, Watanabe Takashi (Tadashi Okuno), who had taught earlier in college, has written books and is man of knowledge. She talks to him about books and paintings and later asks him to come to sleep with her. Apparently, the professor is not interested in sex but in talking to her and has cooked some delicious meal for her. He seems to have solicit her company just out of loneliness. However, Akiko, being tired ends up sleeping alone.

Next day, he drives her to college for her exam and waits till she comes out. As Akiko is entering the college, her jealous boyfriend Noriaki (Ryo Kase), which doesn’t know about her night occupation, confronts her which is seen by Takashi from his car. Noriaki later introduces himself to the professor as he is waiting for her and discusses his love for Akiko assuming the professor as her grandfather. He tells her why he was upset because her phone was switched off for the whole night and expects Takashi to sympathize with him. In turn, professor advises him to go slow since they are young and lack experience.

Akiko comes back and is taken aback at seeing Noriaki with Takashi who signals her to sit behind. They drive off to a bookstore ostensibly to buy a book. On their way, Noriaki, a car mechanic by profession, hears abnormal engine noise and asks the professor to stop his car as he thinks there is some trouble with his timing- belt. They go to his garage where he replaces the belt free of cost and Takashi and Akiko leave. Takashi drops her at the bookstore and leaves.

As he reaches his house, he receives a distressed call by Akiko. Takashi asks her to remain there and drops the work he is doing at home to go and pick her up. He finds her in an alley with her face hit and bleeding. She sits in his car and both silently return to his house.

Soon, they find Noriaki at his door, angry and screaming. Why? Apparently, he has discovered that Takashi is not her grandfather. Abbas Kiarostami leaves that to audience’s imagination. One of the film's strengths lies in its ability to leave much to the audience's interpretation. Like a puzzle, it offers intriguing glimpses into the characters' lives while leaving certain aspects ambiguous, allowing viewers to reflect on the complexities of human relationships.

Rin Takanashi delivers a remarkable performance as Akiko. She displays genuine innocence, inquisitiveness and warmth of a young girl. Her portrayal as a student engaged in night business, is a delicate balance of vulnerability and strength, making her character relatable and sympathetic. The standout performance, however, comes from Tadashi Okuno, who plays Takashi, the professor. Okuno's portrayal is simply mesmerizing; he exudes a gentle and grandfatherly demeanor while subtly revealing layers of loneliness and melancholy beneath the surface. His interactions with Akiko are filled with warmth and compassion, establishing an unexpected bond between two strangers seeking solace and understanding.

‘Like Someone in Love’ is a beautifully crafted Japanese film that stands as a testament to Abbas Kiarostami's prowess as a filmmaker. With its poetic storytelling, attention to small detail and nuanced performances, the movie serves as a gentle reminder that genuine connections can be found in the unlikeliest of places.

About the director, Abbas Kiarostami

Born in June, 1940 at Tehran, Iran Abbas Kiarostami was multi-talented artist who wrote poems, painted and was involved with over forty films, feature and shorts in over five decades of his creative career. His first love was, however, painting, which he continued till he joined School of fine Arts at the University of Teheran.

Armed with degree in fine arts, Kiarostami worked in advertising industry creating graphic designs, posters and commercials. He made over 150 commercials for Iranian TV in sixties. Later he started creating credit titles for the Iranian films.

In 1970, he helped set up an Institute for Intellectual development of Children and Young Adults in Tehran. There he made his first short film, 12 minutes in duration, titled ‘The Bread and Alley’, which was about a schoolboy’s tryst with a dog. Thereafter, he continued making shorts for the institute till 1977.

In 1977, he made his first feature film ‘The Report’, which depicted life of a tax collector accused of taking bribes. After his first feature too, he kept on making shorts and films bordering on short and feature length. His claim to fame, however, came in 1987 with film, ‘Where is my friend’s home’ which gave him international recognition. The touching film is about a schoolboy who accidently takes his friend’s notebook who has been scolded earlier and threatened with expulsion. He attempts to return the notebook but loses way to friend’s home and has to return his home back. He then completes both, his own and his friend’s homework to save him. Incidentally, this was the first Iranian film watched by this reviewer, years ago. The film garnered lot of awards at various film festivals.

Later, he did lot of experiments in scriptwriting and filmmaking. For instance, his film ’Ten’ (2002) shows ten scenes with a female taxi driver and various passengers, as she drives around Tehran. His other film ’Five’ (2003), is a documentary with five 16 minute long takes. Present film is his second film outside Iran with European and Japanese producers. This film opened to good reviews and did decent business worldwide. He died on 4th July, 2016 in France.