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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Like Someone in Love [Blu-ray]
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on 18 August 2014
This film is stars the exquisitely beautiful Rin Takanashi as a part time prostitute / escort who works to fund her studies - I think she was from a rural area having moved to the big mega city of Tokyo.

This is not so much a story film as a melancholy snapshot of a night and day involving a few characters: the prostitute; her pimp; her grandmother - who sadly she can't meet due to work commitments; her aggressive blue collar boyfriend; and her elderly client. The film does end very suddenly as others have written - and viewers will love or hate this. I would have had a more involved conclusion to the film but I'll say no more on this.

I'm not sure who the film title refers to - it could be that Takanashi's character would act like someone in love when she is working; it could be her boyfriend who professes love for her but seems to treat her not well; or it could be the elderly client who seems to want company more than an intimate acts (even though this is about a Tokyo sex worker I don't recall any nudity in this film at all).

The scene where she is being driven in car through the night to the client seems to stick in my mind a lot.

Overall, this is a good film and I would recommend it - but don't watch if you are depressed....
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If you're familiar with modern Japanese arthouse movies or written literature, then the style and strangeness of this film won't be totally surprisingly. So if you enjoyed Norwegian Wood then Like Someone In Love won't seem too weird. The extended monologues, long silences, extended driving sequences and static filming won't appeal to everyone however, especially as it's one of those films which kinda starts in the middle and finishes before the end...

Like Someone In Love is a series of extended character pieces which explores overlapping lives of different generations in modern day Tokyo. There's a country girl who has come to the city to escape rural monotony and limited opportunities, and she's ended up providing escort services to older gentlemen at night while cramming in sociology studies during the day. Her jealous boyfriend knows he's being given the run-around but doesn't quite understand how. Her worried grandmother has travelled all the way to the big city, unannounced, to visit. And Akiko has a special appointment that evening with an elderly scholar - a widower, we think, lonely in his apartment, with only his work and an annoying neighbour.
As is the way with such films, each of these threads is far more than I've just described, and they trace patterns of loss, hope, self-obsession, love, grief, selfless dedication and a whole lot more in between the generations. There's an enormous amount of talking - some remarkable performances are given one-sided, on the phone - and an equal amount of not talking, when communication totally collapses.
But this isn't a depressing or even particularly sad story - indeed, there's some sequences which are gently and wistfully humorous. Some moments are just plain funny: the older chap spends all day making soup, a delicacy from her childhood, he hopes. `I always hated that' she says and dismisses it in an instant. Ouch. But ouch with a wry smile.
Like Someone In Love tilts away from outright depression and rather more towards a poignant inevitability of miscommunication, and the tangle of emotional upheaval which can last a lifetime. It includes some beautifully shot sequences - like when Akiko drives past her grandmother, twice, and listens repeatedly to the messages left on her voicemail. That's as close as she can come to close personal contact - a slightly sinister observation about modern cultural development and increasing levels of isolation.

Gentle, clever, thought-provoking and entertaining, this film also gave us a glimpse of modern day Tokyo and Japanese society. Overall, we loved it, but if you're not used to watching Japanese-language drama, then you may find it somewhat slow and stilted.
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on 2 March 2014
In an interview accompanying this DVD, the film's director Abbas Kirostami talks about how it was only possible to make this story after he had acquired the necessary life experience. Perhaps this is a strategy that more directors need to pursue because in this realisation Mr Kirostami's understanding of the central character certainly pays off. Both the old man, Tadashi Okuno, and the beautiful object of desire, Rin Takanashi, turn in outstanding performances in a compelling but low-key story. While there is certainly a girl, there is no sordid exploitation of the female form, and while there are no guns, there is a hint of offscreen (imminent) violence. Instead Mr Kirostami allows the audience the space to apply their own understanding of the events that we see unfold. Using a Rashemonian device, we can see the events again with another implied meaning. In this film, as in all good cinema, you decide what you have just seen and what, ultimately, it all means.
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on 18 November 2013
First of all I must say that this movie won't be for everyone, relying as it does on the viewer being patient and happy to let things slowly unfold, albeit in a most beguiling manner. This is not a movie for the 'Die Hard' or 'Transformers' brigade. It is slow and subtle with a narrative that is slight but characters who fascinate due to the indistinctness of who they are - that is to say all the main characters may or may not be quite what they seem and all of them present different personas according to their situation and relationships.

The film fascinates from the opening scene in a bar where you can hear Rin Takanashi talking on her phone while she is out of shot and we see the bar from her physical viewpoint.
The beautiful cinematography helps to underline the isolation of the characters by techniques like scenes occurring within the interior of cars and through windows shot with beautiful reflections of the neon lights of Tokyo. The main female character is played by Rin Takanashi whose delicate and vulnerable beauty lends such poignancy to the film, especially in the scene in a taxi where she listens to voicemails from her grandmother - such a quietly heartbreaking scene. And it is no coincidence that Kiarostami chose Japan as the location for a movie about hidden personas and confused identities.

The only reason I didn't give this movie 5 stars was because of the film's sudden abrupt ending which leaves you not knowing what happened next or where the slight narrative was leading to. It did not bother me too much as I can imagine that Kiarostami did this because he was implying that when people's identities are so fluid and indistinct then there will never be a resolution to their problematic lives but I can equally imagine that the ending would infuriate many viewers used to a more conventional narrative form. But when I think about this movie (which I have viewed several times) it is the pleasure of the slow observation of these people and their life experiences that makes it so rewarding and so visually seductive.
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on 17 August 2014
Great film, great story, brilliant acting, an insight into the conflict between 'traditional' rural society and modern, urban social mores, in Japan.
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on 6 October 2015
Japanese with subtitles - Iranian Abbas Kiarostami directing in Japan! Identities mistaken and assumed? Not a simple tale. An 80 year old hires a 20 year old prostitute whose boy friend is unaware of her "job" and wants to marry her. There is no sex or titillation but absorbing human interaction between pro. client and emotionally unstable black belt lover who has blind desire. Abbas used inexperienced and "bit" players and gives them space to express fresh and genuine emotion. So not Hollywood. I felt it worth considering what else Abbas has done.
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on 30 March 2014
There were aspects of this film that I really liked. The acting and cinematography is amazing. The scene where the main two characters are in the car with Kase Ryo (I wouldn't marry him after watching this film and believe me, I would have before!) is so tense it's perfect. I found the ending slightly unsatisfying but can't say why as it will completely ruin it for anyone considering watching it. Let's just say don't do it if you need closure from a film.
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on 22 March 2014
I was glad I saw this as I had hated Kiarostami's previous film, the self-indulgent Certified Copy. While Certified Copy did not work for me because I felt the story could only have been set in Iran, where a man and a woman cannot travel together unless they are related and hence the pretense, this story works well in its Japanese setting and maybe could also have been made in Iran.
I just wish the ending was not so abrupt and imagined maybe it could have an ending like the TV series Breaking Bad where the camera top view zooms out of a dying Walter White. It made me think that the arty film makers like Kiarostami, Hanneke and the Dardenne brothers maybe could benefit a tiny bit from the traditional technique of story telling that we see these days to good effect, in the best of the independent US films and TV dramas. At the very least, Kiarostami could have used a great film editor instead of his spoilt son who has not really paid his 'dues' and should not be hired to edit a major film. He pauses when he should cut and cuts when he needs to leave a breather.
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on 2 December 2015
Very French - which is what it's supposed to be. A little different from the usual Japanese film - which neither a good or bad thing. I liked it anyway. The ending will have you sitting up and saying "...what?!"
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on 4 March 2016
Intriguing, clever and beautifully acted.
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