Like Someone in Love

Directed By: Abbas Kiarostami

Starring: Rin Takanashi, Tadashi Okuno, and Ryo Kase

Love might just be the most dangerous force on Earth.  Some people really can't handle it when they're rejected by the one they love.  It devastates them to the point that they just snap.  They become a danger to any and every person around them.  That being said, this is something we've seen depicted on the big screen many times before with countless angry husbands, wives, boyfriends, and girlfriends.  Director Abbas Kiarostami puts a whole new spin on it with his latest work Like Someone in Love.

To finance her studies at a college in Tokyo, Akiko (Rin Takanashi) turns to a life of prostitution.  Unbeknownst to her fiancé Noriaki, she leads an alternate lifestyle at night.  This life as a prostitute leaves many unanswered questions in her relationship, and Noriaki is bent on getting some answers.  That's why Akiko turns off her phone when she's working.  One night, her boss Hiroshi tells her to break up with Noriaki.  According to him, her relationship is bad for business.  He then sends Akiko against her wishes to do a job for some important man outside the city.  That man is an elderly gent by the name of Takashi (Tadashi Okuno), and he's looking for simple companionship from a girl who looks like his lost loved ones.  The only problem is that Akiko comes with plenty of her own baggage, primarily her obsessed fiancé Noriaki.

In Like Someone in Love, Abbas Kiarostami requires two things of his audience, patience and curiosity.  For the vast majority of the film, we're given a rather low-key drama filled with the most mundane events.  We get to watch a lot of driving and listen to plenty of idle chatter.  Somehow, Kiarostami keeps us engaged throughout the film and even manages to hold our curiosity.  With all the small, everyday occurrences we witness, it's natural to wonder what he's ultimately trying to accomplish with the film.  The answer is a stunning, jaw-dropping ending, but I’ll talk more about that later.

To carry us along for two hours with small stuff, Kiarostami needs an interesting cast, and he assembles exactly the right people for the job.  As Akiko, Rin Takanashi gives a quietly emotive performance that highlights her tragic personal and “professional” lives.  Ryo Kase definitely portrays nutcase Noriaki to perfection.  The real standout in Like Someone in Love is Tadashi Okuno's Takashi.  This old dude is a charmer.  Whether putting on some old school jazz to set the mood with Akiko or pretending to be her wise old grandfather on the streets of Tokyo, Okuno gives us a lovable elder who's fun to watch.  As he meanders about the big screen, Okuno gives us the character that makes the mundane, everyday things of life surprisingly entertaining.

There are very few films that have surprised me as much as Like Someone in Love.  The explosive situation that defines the ending just comes out of nowhere.  I never saw it coming.  The pulse-pounding final minutes of the film are downright terrifying.  What you hear is more important than what you see in this final scene.  Footsteps ascending stairs, violent shouting, and chaotic commotion outside Takashi's apartment are all very unsettling noises.  It all culminates with an ending that raises more questions than it provides answers.  The ending is a masterful exercise in subtle filmmaking.  It's the ultimate payoff to our patience and curiosity throughout the movie.

Like Someone in Love offers one of the best endings I've seen in ages.  There's no definitive explanation for everything that really happened or what takes place after the final shocker.  I left this film with multiple theories, and all are viable in their own ways.  This is what Kiarostami loves to do though.  He loves to pose questions and make his audience answer them.  Like Someone in Love gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.