Evan’s review published on Letterboxd:
This type of film is why the Palme d'Or exists.
Kiarostami produces one of the most thoughtful meditations on death that the cinema has ever seen with Taste of Cherry. His story of a man who drives around searching for someone to discreetly bury him under a cherry tree after he commits suicide is one of the most outright humanistic portrayals out there of such a dark, tricky subject matter. He offers no motive for Mr. Badii's decision, though it is clear that his mind is made up. Unlike the first two passengers he picks up, Kiarostami is not here to judge, and neither are we- this is a film of tremendous empathy for a man whose choice to end his own life is his and only his. Formally, it is quite simple, but this is where its beauty lies. The cutting between close-up and medium in-car shots and wider compositions of the vehicle in the landscape is remarkably poetic in its rhyme, though some individually striking pieces (like that of the emptying dirt over Mr. Badii's shadow) stand out.
In typical Iranian New Wave fashion, it has one of the most jaw-dropping shifts to meta-cinema in its ending. The "this is all a film" moment creates this sense of blurring the lines between reality and fiction, obviously, but is also filled with a divine, heartwarming sense of closure in an otherwise ambiguous film. In a sense, this is all incredibly life-affirming, a collection of emotions that felt wonderful to experience in a tough time in my life. Despite its challenging nature, it is also a refreshing piece of art in that it allows you to work so many things out over its 90-or-so minutes.
Homayoun Ershadi is absolutely incredible in this. His mysterious performance as an irreparably broken man is so quiet, yet filled with so much pain. He seems desperate, but also at some sense of strange, graceful peace. His final scene in the film is one of the most completely and utterly devastating things I've ever seen.
Somehow, this feels all the more poignant considering Kiarostami's own recent passing, the one out of a terrible year of losing many of my favorite artists that hurt the most (not to discredit the others, but that felt like losing a dear friend I had never met). Farewell, master, for the shoot is over.
Also, I watched this on the couch next to my brother, who was thankfully distracted by the PS4 enough to not notice me wiping tears on my sleeve and sniffling like a damn baby through the whole third act of this. I was a goner once the old taxidermist started talking about all the little things that make it all worth it.
Also again, but I wrote this while listening to Sufjan Stevens' "The Only Thing", and woo-hoo here I am crying again.