I admit, I'm not familiar with Abbas Kiarostami's work and decided to watch "Like Someone in Love" because the story somewhat echoed that of Eungyo (2012).
But "Like Someone in Love" opens powerfully. Perhaps it will leave you confused but it already reinforces what we need to know. There is a woman speaking but we do not know who she is. That goes for more about a minute or two. And when we are finally shown who she is, she, alone is in the frame—almost like she's trapped.
And throughout the film, that's what we're shown. A trapped Akiko.
About 20 minutes in, I was already sobbing.
Akiko trapped in the taxi, with neon lights flashing through her face, some reflected on the window, makes her seem like she is lost—discovering the world outside for the first time, wandering through flashy lights and busy streets, trapped while listening to voice messages left by her grandmother who longs to meet her.
And that's what made me start shedding tears. The grandma's messages. The voice. The calmness. But at the same time, the longing to meet her granddaughter. And when the taxi finally puts the grandmother in view, waiting next to a statue, the camera choses to push us away, never showing her in close-up. Akiko, arches her head, asks the driver to turn one more, getting as much as she can. And drives away.
I am helpless as she was. I wanted to do something. As Akiko arches her head, she is filled with struggle, wanting to escape the taxi, acting like her prison but she knows she can't. And drives on.
It made me angry though, how much we take for granted the people that love us and care for us, who despite their age, wait for us, travelled to Tokyo, made an effort to call us, only for us, to leave and give up. Only when we lose these people do we realize the importance of that. That scene is powerful in the movie but it is also powerful for me—having lost my own grandma only a year ago. It resonated so much, it felt me in tears.
"I'll be waiting," her grandma says.
At least she has a grandma waiting for her. And she took it for grandma. (This is me being sentimental, sorry.)
The car will then become a symbol of Akiko's prison. Later, she sits inside Takeshi's Volvo. As I said, I'm not familiar with Kiarostami's works but he seems to focus a lot on identity, lies and deceit. And truth be told, he does it subtly here, almost nestled in so smoothly, you won't be able to say the film focuses on that.
Akiko is deceiving her jealously boyfriend and her grandma about her profession as a callgirl. Takeshi, the old man that she meets at night, pretends to be her grandfather the next day. Her jealous boyfriend says he is ready for marriage but seems not to be.
These little things are hidden so well in the dialogues. The film also focuses on close-up as a means to show the characters' lies and deceit. Cleverly done through the lack of an actual score as well, it makes you feel like a real observer—only you are helpless to do anything.
1hr45 minutes feel short. And the ending is abrupt, almost unfinished and lacking but ultimately, "Like Someone in Love" succeeds in delivering what it needs to. Perhaps its slow past is difficult to get through (it was for me), it's a beautiful film but a film that's also difficult to recommend.