Abbas Kiarostami’s latest free-range puzzle is set in Tokyo and its lyric ambiguity is welcome perfume even at its most challenging (i.e., an ending that reviewers at film festivals found abrupt and inconclusive). Sociology student Akiko (Rin Takanashi) works on the side as a call girl, and early scenes of her face lit by the city’s neon night are lovely and seem to lean toward the urban lushness of a pictorialist like Wong Kar-wai. But not so quick! Katsumi Yanagijima’s cinematography is rich and vital, as important here as in his movies like “Battle Royale,” “The Grudge 2,” and for Takeshi Kitano, like “Dolls,” “Sonatine” and “The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi.” But the Iranian filmmaker has other games in mind, not merely quiet surface beauty, especially the ones you’d expect from Kiarostami, of identity and cross-purposes, and shots of driving that will alternate with the interior of the apartment of an elderly professor and widower (eighty-one-year-old stage actor Tadashi Okuno) who’s more interested in nostalgia than sex with this sweet-faced arrival. (The title comes from a jazz standard that both clarifies and muddies several moments.) The surfaces aren’t resistant, they give, but the story, even more than his previous film, “Certified Copy,” fully blooms only a while after it’s taken you aback. Pain and violence course under the surface. 109m. (Ray Pride)
“Like Someone in Love” is now playing at the Music Box.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.