Like Someone In Love

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“Like Someone In Love” is a lovely, lonely and laconic film. That its director is Iranian, Abbas Kiarostami, and its cast and setting are Japanese are confluence in this meditative and melancholy story. Poignant with few spoken words, this elegiac story laments that being in love may be more onerous than wondrous. Akiko (Rin Takanashi) is a college student who supports herself working as a call girl. She keeps this dark secret from her boyfriend, Noriaki (Ryo Kase) with habitual lies. Needless, his suspicion makes him mad with abuses. Mr. Takashi, (non-professional actor Tadashi Okuno), her customer, is an elderly widower whose longings for love seek the comfort of Akiko.

Like someone in love, Akiko is adrift in a formless life. Like a sailboat in a windless night, she is lost in love. She does not know where she needs to be or what she should do with those she loves. She does not know because she is not sure who she is: “Not a day goes by that I’m not told I look like someone.” Her love for Noriaki fails to (or cannot) transform their relationship into intimate transparency. When he doubts her, Akiko reassures him, “I’m not lying,” all the while lying that she is not lying. Her grandmother longs to see her beloved. Akiko listens to her multiple voice messages desperately pleading to see her. Longing to express love, but Akiko cannot find it in herself to see her distraught grandmother. Instead, her taxi circles the train station as she watches her grandmother waiting haplessly under a stature, all the while crying longingly for love.

Like someone in love, Noriaki is adrift in his love for Akiko. In a fleeting moment of clarity, he wants to marry the love of his life in the worst way. Other moments, where clarity escapes him, his suspicions are not sure what to do for or want from love. In happenstance, Mr. Takashi and Noriaki’s eyes meet. Soon, they are engaged in a grandfatherly conversation. The elder concludes that the younger is too inexperienced to be married. When asked what then is considered life experience, Mr. Takashi intuits, “When you know you may be lied to, it’s best not to ask question. That’s what we learn from experience.”

Like someone in love, but unlike Akiko, Mr. Takashi’s formed life is confined in narrow spaces. He lives modestly in a small, book-lined apartment. Even the space where he parks his car is crammed. His confinement is bind by prosaic routines. Alone and lonely, his longs to spend the evening, and night, with Akiko. But it is more longing for love than of lust. He meticulously prepares his apartment for an evening dinner in candle light. He even finds out where Akiko is from and prepares a unique soup from that region.

Like someone in love, they, in their own ways, are frayed between pretense and veracity, between uncertainly and certitude. The sublimity of the opening scene is metaphorical of their perception of love’s reality. It is a dimly lit bar. In semblable darkness, the patrons’ chatters are indistinct. Then we hear a woman’s voice, but do not see her. She is talking with someone on her cell phone. Repeatedly, she reassures the other person that she is not lying. Then an older man slips into the empty chair at her table. He rudely interrupts to admonish what she has to do for the night. What is going on here? Who is the woman, and the man, and what are they doing, and where does she need to be that night? Like the dimly lit ambiance, we are all in the dark. Such is the enigmatic disorientation of someone in love.