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Taste of Cherry is an intriguing movie that hits the ball onto the green, but not into the hole, and rolls into the rough for the final "scene."
The story can be summed up as follows: a suicidal man drives around the outskirts of Tehran looking for someone who will bury his corpse for a good sum of money the following morning.
Without much of a plot, Kiarostami drags out every scene with long takes to get to an acceptable run time. I admit I was drawn into the story, as I am with most stories that have a question mark hanging over them. The cinematography and unique setting also help. However, the film was something of a letdown overall.
We never learn why the main character, Badii, wants to commit suicide, so it is hard to feel sorry for him. We just know he is in pain. It takes a while to even learn what Badii's motivation is. Early on the film hints he is looking to pay for some sort of homosexual hookup. This is just a sort of tease until we learn what he is really looking for.
Then there is the final scene, which is a behind-the-scenes revealing shot a la the final shot in Ingmar Bergman's Persona. This is a cheap, faux-artsy move that adds nothing, but in fact detracts as it reminds us we're watching a film for some reason. I already knew I was watching a film--I was the one who put in the DVD, after all. Just a stupid ending to an otherwise OK piece of cinema.
Beautifully shot and over flowing with haunting images and poetic symbolism, this film is anything but boring, despite a few critics who would argue otherwise.
Yet another brilliant masterstroke by Abbas Kiarostami, director of "Close Up" and "The Koker Trilogy". Recipient of the 1997 Palme d'Or, "Taste of Cherry" explores the sensitive and deeply personal phenomenon of suicide as the story follows its protagonist, Mr. Badii. While the plot follows his mission to discover someone to willingly bury him after self-inflicted death, it simultaneously takes the viewer on a drive-along to view the rapidly industrializing city of Tehran. During this trip, the film takes time to explore other wide-ranging themes, including those of social standing/class, religion, and philosophy.
A guy picks up people who look like they need work and asks them a lot of invasive and slightly creepy questions while driving. That's 1/2 the movie. Eventually we find out he's trying to recruit someone to bury him after his suicide. We never learn anything about him and why he's chosen this - we actually learn more about the people he picks up. Just not for me.
It's hard to rate this movie, for I'm not sure what to make of it. It is indeed a strong and serious movie and it impressed me with its enigmatic minimalist style. Alien to Western conventions of film-making this is definitely a type of movie that makes you think hard; think about life and death, about meaning of life, to not lose the beauty of it no matter what. I'm sure I'll return to this film in the future.
The "slow, monotonous, almost boring" aspect of many acclaimed films that take a sad tone and a slow pace as part of the experience they want to convey is a massive point of controversy, just like the "walking simulator" experience in videogames, and I cant imagine how it continues to be so, as many films like Taste of Cherry just plain prove that it can be done right as long as it connects to the themes and overall experience in a perfectly artistic, poetic, and organic way in order to make it ironically and strangely magical. Pansies.
The frustrating last scene feels like a copout included by Kiarostami only to draw some puzzling intellectual reaction from his audience; but still, this is a deeply human film that moves us in its simplicity while never offering a reason for a man wanting to end his life.
Taste of Cherry demonstrates that Mr. Kiarastomi possesses a unique awareness of humanity, both grand and accurately infinitesimal.
The characters are not empathic at all, the landscapes' scenes are the longest I've ever seen, the dialogues are a lack of creativity and the theme of suicide is just not treated, just some words in the end of the movie trying to point out the cons of committing suicide, but it doesn't reach you.
I believe the film's best scene is the one involving the Iranian Azeri man giving the story of his own planned suicide which helped him understand the issue was with his mood and not his mind. Mind over the mood is the big theme. However, the rest of the movie is somewhat slow and boring, as if used as filler.