6/27/2012

"Cherrys with no flavor"

Title: Ta'm e guilass (Taste of Cherry)
Year: 1997
Genre: Drama
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Writer: Abbas Kiarostami
Runtime: 95min
Cast: Homayon Ershadi, Abdolrahman Bagheri, Afshin Khorshid Bakhtiari
Produc.: Abbas Kiarostami Productions, CiBy2000, Kanoon

In Taste of Cherry, Badii (Homayon Ershadi) is a man who, for the purpose of committing suicide, travels in his car, looking for someone who would then, bury him. 
With a runtime of 95 minutes, what we mostly see in it is its main character, a depressed Badii, always driving. Badii travels along a road, sees someone who considers capable of carrying out the task, stops, invites him to get in, and then goes to explain, how by helping him out could be making good money and very quickly. The job details are, however, obviated in the beginning, not to scare them with something so delicate. 
Kiarostami tells much of the film with a camera pointed on its lead actor, Homayon Ershadi (or Badii), in the car, always in medium shots, and inserting panoramic images from time to time. So, when Badii stops and picks up a Kurdish soldier, in first instance, an Afghan seminarian (Mir Hossein Noori), in second instance, and finally, a Turkish taxidermist (Abdolrahman Bagheri), in each case goes to the typical shot reverse shot of him and his companion, and that´s all. It is not more complex than that. The director does not bother to put to our disposal any different alternative. 
If anything this Iranian director is really the master that is so much said, this is, definitely not, the best example. His visual monotony recalls a heart monitor for patients who are no longer among the living. Looking back, one could recall claustrophobic cases such as Phone Booth (2002) or 127 Hours (2010), where the directors had worried about not inducing us to fall asleep, to instead, keeping us wide awake with their scenes. Anyone could conclude that Kiarostami made his actors (or, amateur actors) improvise for the camera, and that, whatever they say, all of it would remain in the final montage. Thus, the taxidermist would end up being the only one who stood out, given his admirable account of his aborted attempt at self elimination. 
This flick got me thinking about, what would the public say if suddenly a famous director, like Tarantino, offered us something similar. Because if Kiarostami can do it, and be for that, admired, why not, other filmmakers? Although I think that, if any of these days Tarantino shot in the same way, the public would not hesitate to boo him. 
It is also true that we are talking about completely different styles, except that, in my opinion, the minimalism of the Iranian photography, along with his long dialogues, lead one to start thinking of, which part of all that is said, will be worth retaining, and what parts to discard. Kiarostami is in trouble, if he has not yet realized that movies are primarily a visual language and which is told through actions, that the spoken word is to be used with caution, and that in the case of putting long conversations, one must be able to demonstrate that it is an excellent dialogist. 
His work seems worthy of a film student, moderately trained to use a camera and cut and paste frames, which leaves this director looking very badly. 
So, is it the topic, at least, interesting? Well... It could be said that it is. I guess that everything concerning suicide is quite suggestive. Especially because human beings are morbid and curious by nature. However, a good movie is not only achieved by having a good subject, but also needs to be known how to tell it, and here it seems that, once elected his scheme, Kiarostami had forgotten about other options. 
I imagine that, undoubtedly, many will be able to find in it other ingredients that I have overlooked, and that give to it greater narrative depth and meaning. Like for example, in the very same geographical area in which all takes place, on the outskirts of Tehran. Different people may look for things here and there, and perhaps it is a movie that, although very simple in structure, requires a lot of work in the head. 
Nevertheless, something much more concrete is still missing in a visual level and in its characters. I'd say it comes down to what we see on screen, and to the emotions, here slim, that that transmits to us. 

My rating: 1/10


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