Monday, 16 August 2010

I'm Giving You A Spade. A Spade.

Man, Taste of Cherry has been on my radar for so long now, and I can't believe I've never watched it. I'm entirely ashamed of myself, in fact.

In the three Kiarostami films I have watched over these last nine months or so (we had this one and we have 10 coming up also) there is a very, very distinct style, and even setting. They are all digital video, they all feel like documentaries (though I'm never going to label any but Close-Up as even approaching mockumentary) and they all have a lot to do with cars. Well, they are all set for a large part (or, in the case of 10, for the whole part) in or around cars. I am therefore intrigued to the max with Kiarostami's first non-Iranian film, Certified Copy, which from the trailer seems bright, glossy, and features Juliette Binoche. We shall see.

Taste of Cherry centres on Mr Badii (Homayoun Ershadi), a man with a suitcase of money driving through Tehran trying to find someone to help him die. That's not entirely accurate, actually. He is not looking for someone to help him die, merely for someone to bury him once he has died. He confronts a few people, from a boy in the military to a seminarist from Afghanistan before coming upon a taxidermist, who says that he will help though he tries to talk Badii out of it beforehand, revealing that he had tried to commit suicide earlier in his life and was now glad that he hadn't.

It is a very simple conceit for a film, but with Kiarostami's deft touch (something which, according to the cover notes for 10, saw him voted the most important director of the 1990s by a collection of leading international critics - I'm not going to argue, despite the fact that this was unreferenced...) it becomes something incredibly beautiful and complex. After seeing the film, the title itself brings emotion bubbling to the surface, coming as it does from a beautiful little monologue during the film:

If you look at the four seasons, each season brings fruit. In summer there's fruit, in autumn too. Winter brings different fruit, and spring too. No mother can fill her fridge with such a variety of fruit for her children. No mother can do as much for her children as God does for His creatures. You want to refuse all that? You want to give it all up? You want to give up the taste of cherries? 

And all this while Badii is being given directions by his passenger! Coming as it does within the mundanity of 'turn right', 'turn right', and the pauses between these directions, gives such beautiful words added poignancy and beauty. 

It is hard to truly do justice to something so beautiful, yet so simple, by talking about it. Taste of Cherry won the Palme d'Or in 1997 (tied with Unagi) and picked up a couple of critics awards for foreign language film in the States that year as well. It is soft and subtle but touching in many ways. It's probably one of the best films I've seen over the last year as well, and considering I just counted that I've seen 223 since I started this on November 9, that must be saying something. Kiarostami is, and shall be forever more, very high on my list of directors whose work I must absorb as much of as possible. 5 stars.

(Did I really say 'intrigued to the max' up there? I am so, so sorry.)

No comments:

Post a Comment