When Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi's A Separation won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, it was a breakthrough of sorts for his country's long-fertile national cinema. But it also came at a moment when one of the country's greatest film artists, Abbas Kiarostami, was in self-imposed exile. Kiarostami became, in artistic terms at least, a citizen of the world. His first film after leaving his home country was Certified Copy, a French production set in Italy with French and English stars, including Juliette Binoche and William Shimell.
If Certified Copy is Kiarostami's European film, the Tokyo-set Like Someone in Love is his Asian film. Like Certified Copy, it chronicles the brief encounter between a man and woman who meet and later pretend to be related. Like Certified Copy and Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry, many of its scenes take place in cars. But while Certified Copy was an art-film apotheosis of sorts, Like Someone in Love may be even more beyond the ken of filmgoers unaccustomed to the measured pace, precise style, and mysterious content of Kiarostami's films.
This time the couple is a young woman and a much older man: a college student (Rin Takanashi) who moonlights as a call girl and the elderly scholar (Tadashi Okuno) she's sent to, whose interests are not carnal. The next day, he drives her to class and sees her boyfriend verbally accosting her. The boyfriend mistakes him for the girl's grandfather. And that's where things get (more) odd.
Like Someone in Love doesn't come together as well as Certified Copy, but among its many pleasures is perhaps the saddest and yet most beautiful scene you'll see this year: the girl ferried by taxi through downtown Tokyo at night, toward her assignation, the neon street scenes reflected in the windows that encase her as she listens to her day's voicemails, which include a series of increasingly plaintive messages from her grandmother.
Like Someone in Love
Brooks Museum of Art, Sunday, May 19th
2 p.m., $8 or $6 for members