Like Someone in Love ★★★★½

It feels somewhat fitting that Like Someone in Love was the final film released by Abbas Kiarostami during his lifetime. The gradual, wistful manner in which it unfolds practically forces the mind to wander in contemplation in a way that makes its subject matter resonate deeply. There's a pensive haziness that engulfs every frame which is both elusive and captivating, making the viewing experience akin to being put into a trance.

The narrative sees Kiarostami returning once again to the link between identity and perception. It follows young call girl Akiko and elderly professor Takashi as their irrelative relationship appears to transform into a familial one overnight, affecting how they're regarded by those around them. The fundamental question seems to be, can the way that we're perceived by others influence who we really are? We often attribute characteristics that aren't remotely accurate to people based off of surface-level impressions, so perhaps that could have a bigger impact on self-identity than we realise. Take the fact that Akiko's boyfriend assumes that Takashi is her grandfather; he doesn't correct that thought process, so does he automatically take on that role? It's an endlessly interesting concept that is deftly played with here, suggesting that if we don't quickly rectify the image someone holds of us then we risk becoming that way forever in their eyes.

It's noteworthy that reflections are a key motif in many of the shot compositions, feeding into the idea that everyone is either projecting or embracing a persona that isn't completely connected to reality. Akiko is frequently obscured visually as if she is imprisoned, her true self irrevocably dismantled because societal pressure causes alienation and isolation to become prevalent in modern life. The striking sequence of her taxi journey to glimpse her grandmother exquisitely encapsulates her all-encompassing sense of detachment; only able to view her loved one from afar, the gentle words from the voicemail offering little comfort as her face is blurred through the window by the expansive city lights that dwarf everything in sight. The implication is that these feelings of indifference can be applied to society as a whole; that's why Akikio's boyfriend can talk of marriage one moment and then angrily accost her the next.

The enigmatic style with which the topics are dealt with would make this an ideal companion piece to Certified Copy, only the swirling expressiveness has been substituted for a mercurial subtlety. I acutally prefer the approach here. It is very measured (and put as much emphasis on that word as you can), but Kiarostami's calmly rhythmic direction and the gorgeous cinematography make all the introspection hypnotic to watch. It's appropriate that a film about reflections, both literal and metaphorical, should end with a window being broken.

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