Jonathan White’s review published on Letterboxd:
After a brief step off the path of complete love of Iranian cinema with Taxi, ( an unpopular view, I know ), I’m right back on the love trail with Abbas Kiarostami’s A Taste of Cherry.
While not the same film, Taxi and the wonderful Iranian gem 20 fingers that I compared it to, and A Taste of Cherry takes place in a vehicle and it’s story plumed from conversations between passengers and driver. Where Taxi is obvious, A Taste of Cherry and 20 Fingers are subtle, like poetry, or the scent of Jasmine in bloom. Where the motives and intentions of Taxi are painfully clear, the other two are vague and mysterious, like the rest of Iranian cinema I’ve seen and loved.
The wonder of Cherry is it’s wholly naturalistic discourse mounted on top of a basic question … but the reason for the question is never explained. The moral implications are great, but we don’t know why the passengers are being put to face them. All we know is the simple and straight forward question. If you find me dead in this place tomorrow, lying in a grave, will you take 18 shovels of dirt and place them over me if I pay you handsomely for the act.
The reactions of the passengers are genuine, and I think what Kiarostami is trying to eke out is the humanity and the morality of the average Iranian .. a soldier, a seminarist, and finally a small businessman in the ironic form of a taxidermist; one used to dealing with dead bodies. Their discourse gives us hope for humanity.
Kiarostami caps off this journey with the perfect ending. I’ve since read that the ending was influenced by a lab accident. I think this may have been the intervention of the hand of God.