Like someone in love Abbas Kiarostami (Fr Japan 2012)

Like someone in love Abbas Kiarostami (Fr Japan 2012)

Like someone in love Abbas
Kiarostami (Fr Japan 2012) Tadashi
Okuno, Rin
Takanashi, Ryo
Kase

Viewed: BFI London Ticket price £7.50
(c)
Adrin Neatrour writes: Like having an
idea such as smashing the glass
Like someone in love is the third film
that Abbas Kairostami has made outside Iran as a self exiled film
maker. Kairostami decided to make his films outside Iran because the
political religious regime had made it almost impossible for him to
work inside the country. Kairostami’s films have always attracted
the hostility and censorship of the Iranian authorities who even
destroyed the master 35mm negative of his 1978 marital drama, the
Report. Had he persisted in film making there he would certainly
have found himself under house arrest or even imprisoned, a fate that
has befallen other Iranian film makers.

But what’s an exiled film maker gonna
to make films about? Kairostami has always made his films in Iran
and his subject matter has always been set in an Iranian context. Can
you take the fish out of water and expect it to breath and to make
films?

His films may have been set in Iran but
at the heart of his films lies Kairostami’s intelligence. His films
are not mechanical products; each is the outcome of a process of
thinking – thinking about images.

One of the concepts at the root of his
thinking is the idea of oppositions, oppositions that you can see in
people. Oppositions such as in – relationships – man and woman;
age – old people young people; life and death, knowledge and
ignorance, individual and family. And of course the context of
Iranian society with politico religious forces shaping the social
matrix, provided Kairostami’s films with a wide range of fault lines
to examine and probe.

So what’s he doing in Japan? Like
someone in love…what a strange title for his film. It’s the name of
a song, an old jazz standard. What does it mean, what does it point
to?

I think that in this film Kairostami
has created a new take on the old Japanese idea of the Floating
World. Famously represented in series of nineteenth wood cuts, the
Floating World was the name given to the transient world of pleasure
created by geishas prositutes and clients in nineteenth Tokyo. A
world of impermanence. In Like someone in love, Kairostami
revisualises the floating world as a series of multiple planes of
light that drift across the screen, the reflections and refractions
of modern Tokyo that float over the images of his characters,
obscuring them but at the same time placing them in context of night
and pleasure.

Tokyo is realised by Kairostami as a
series of surfaces. The bars the streets and clubs present a dazzling
beguiling field of vision for the eye. Japan’s culture is overlaid
with Western technological forms that it has made its own. It looks
like the West but it isn’t; and Akiko, Kairostami’s girl protagonist,
always looks like someone who she isn’t.

Kairostami sees that a whole range of
social relations have been absorbed into a new floating world of
impermanence; he also sees that he is an outsider peering into this
culture, through a glass darkly, trying to distinguish image from
reflection and reflection from image. And once the reality of the
glass is admitted then it too becomes part of picture, and also
there will come moments swhen the glass itself will crack

This is a mirror crystal world, and
within it Kairostami projects a love story – of sorts of the sort
that might reveal some of the critical stresses at work in this
society.

Kairostami loves cars as settings in
his films. Many of his films use scenes inside automobiles. He
revels in the contradiction that amidst the frenzy of life, it is
often inside a car, the symbol of movement, that his characters find
the stillness and space.

In Like someone in love, there is a
typical Kurostami moment of interaction in which like a brain surgeon
he penetrates through the hard surface presented the skull into the
deeper soft tissues of the brain. During the taxi ride taken by Akiko
to her new client, Kairostami inserts a scene which is brilliantly
conceived as a series of verbal phone messages picked up by Akiko
from her grandmother. The grandmother’s unsentimental prosaic words
project in full relief not only the growing void separating young and
old but the characteristic emptiness of mobile communications which
increasingly serve the dysfunction of not communicating.

It is the economy that Kairostami
brings to his understanding of Japan that lights up the movie. Using
only simple settings the interior of a car, the interior of an
apartment, the interior of a club he coaxes the surfaces of this
floating world to separate a little and to see the forces at work
that maintain the tension in the glass images: relations between men
and women, old and young, the new and the old, between the imported
culture and the older traditions.

It might sound complex but it is all
done very simply almost without us realising it, until we start to
pay attention. As in the scene where Akiko lies asleep in bed and
her very elderly client, selects a record from his album collection,
plays Ella Fitzgerald singing Like someone in love. The camera pans
off him to the dining table, set for dinner for two, plates knives
and forks and two long stemmed empty wine glasses, and Ella sings:

Everytime I look at you I’m as limp as
a glove, feeling like someone in love…”

For Kairostami, it’s time to break the
glass.

Adrin Neatrour

adrinuk@yahoo.co.uk

Author: Adrin Neatrour

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