The third person in the equation, the grandfatherly Professor Takashi, hires university student and call girl Akiko. He seems more lonely than lustful and the conflicted Akiko relaxes in his presence. Before long Takashi drives her to the university to take an exam where Noriaki waits for her. Soon, uncomfortably the three converse, well nigh trapped in Takashi's Volvo. Auto mechanic Noriaki offers advice about the car, Takashi on life. Awkward in each other's presence, no one knows all they need about the other two in this encounter.
Iranian writer/director Abbas Kiarostami's "Like Someone in Love" shares characteristics of many of his films, including a pared down cast of characters, a powerful and formal style, and imprisonment in one's own personal troubles expressed through physical confinement. A meticulous stylist, Kiarostami permits his characters to reveal themselves wordlessly--through the landscape of their face and body and the carefully designed spaces they inhabit, public and private. In this, his second film made outside Iran (the first is the Tuscan based "Certified Copy" with Juliette Binoche and William Shimell), he proves himself a citizen of world culture and a shrewd student of human nature.
A digression involving Akiko's grandmother is heartbreaking, an intrusion by Takashi's neighbor amusing, and an exchange with Akiko's bar friend revealing. Through minutia, Kiarostami depicts life. His actors deliver restrained and yet extraordinarily charged performances. There's electricity in their silences, and Kiarostami lets those silences hang in the air. When he does use music, it contributes a savvy commentary of its own, especially Ella Fitzgerald's "Like Someone in Love" that gives the film its title.
Kiarostami is unique. His stories flow forward, relatively uninterested in action sequences, and yet "Like Someone in Love" stirs more genuine emotion in me than any Hollywood blockbuster. In Japanese with English subtitles. At a Landmark Theatre.