Monday, April 9, 2007

Taste of Cherry

Ta'm e guilass; drama, Iran / France, 1997; D: Abbas Kiarostami, S: Homayon Ershadi, Abdolrahman Bagheri, Afshin Khorshid Bakhtiari, Safar Ali Moradi
Teheran. Mr. Badii is driving in a car through the streets. He picks up a teenager serving the army and offers him a profitable, but strange job. He drives him up to an isolated hill and explain his job: he should come the next morning to the hole he dug and either help him get up of bury him if he's dead. The youngster gets scared and runs away. Continuing his search, Badii meets an Afghan worker and offers him the same job, explaining he is planning to commit suicide. The man also refuses to do the job due to religious objections. Finally, Badii finds an old Turkish man, Bagheri, who agrees to do the job, but during the ride he explains to him that there are many wonderful things in life worth living for. Confused, Badii goes back to his home. A taxi drives him up to the hole in the middle of a rainy night, and lies in it, thinking. The film ends with the director Kiarostami shooting the film.

Winner of the Golden Palm in Cannes, "Taste of Cherry" is a beautiful one-note film, a minimalistic drama reduced to its core message and nothing more that will be loved by those who enjoy films from directors like Jarmusch or Kaurismaki, with a story so touching, so realistic and true that it seems like a quiet therapy from the loud, dumb, obnoxious mainstream/films that really seem off when compared to capturing reality. Like most films from Abbas Kiarostami, "Cherry" is also slow and quiet, and some could find it even inert, but thanks to a tight rhythm and focused point it manages to avoid being monotone, and its humor is rather refreshing. For instance, in the opening shots the main hero Badii is driving a car through the town and picks up a teenage soldier of Kurdish roots. They talk about trivial stuff during their ride for almost 15 minutes, but then Badii offers him a strange, but well payed job and drives him of to an isolated hill. He stops and shows him a hole, saying his job is to come tomorrow morning at this location and call his name twice, on which he will either response and he can help him get up, or if he doesn't respond he should berry him with 20 shovels of earth. Either way he will be payed 200.000 Toman. Although Badii is persuading him to do so, the youngster eventually runs away from the car downhill. Obviously, the theme about a man who wants to commit suicide is sharp and has spark, but as a whole the film is also an essay about the search for a reason to live and the monologue from the old Turkish man near the end about the beauty of life is an amazing lyrical poetry. Rarely did such a calm, introverted, slow plot blossom into such an interesting flower like "Taste of Cherry", a film that gave his soul for every depressed person in the world.


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