From a previous post I made:
Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry
I slept for almost 10 hours and have been awake by 10 in the evening. I was quite depressed at that time and felt the need to help myself by watching a film. I'm really interested with Kiarostami's works since my first encounter with him in The Wind Will Carry Us, I'm really impressed not only of his style but on how he views life in general. He, as well as Makhmalbaf, are known for their beliefs in their own religion being seen in their films, which might be compared to Tarkovsky's (perhaps not that much but close to that). I was lonely, so I watched Taste of Cherry.
I don't want to discuss more of its plot for others to enjoy this film but I just want to clarify, I agree to other people, that this film isn't about suicide. Even Kiarostami himself fights and reasons out to their government that it really isn't about it. It is about the choices a man has to bear in his life. Choices that can lead him to a state when he feels there's no more reason to move on. I'm a Catholic (not that much as before), so I know what suicide means to a strict believer. Of course, suicide is a universal term, denotatively. But its connotation is far beyond its physical meaning, a different religion or society could interpret it as a mortal sin, as Muslims and Catholics do. I don't know if a certain group considers it the other way around. But why is Mr. Badii wants to commit suicide? Kiarostami doesn't tell. He wants us to know by ourselves. He wants as 'to read between the lines,' as a popular phrase goes. He wants as to be participatory. Maybe he, himself, doesn't know it as well.
The 'documentary style' is very effective. The way Mr. Badii poses questions to the persons inside his car, is like seeing Kiarostami asking them. He wants to share, more than to know. He wants to hear them. And these characters are telling a lot of insightful things. Something we may even don't know before. I notice his emphasis and commentary on soldiers, and perhaps was given justice in that surprising final scene. His focus on them, perhaps their participation in the Iran-Iraq War, is exemplary. That final scene, though they are actors, are perhaps to let us see the contrast. They are happy in that video, even waving their hands (their actors, of course) but in real life, soldiers in Iran are really sad and they really don't benefit in those wars, cause no one does. Kiarostami even included in the script of Jafar Panahi's The White Balloon a scene where that little girl met a soldier and talks to him about life while she's in that desperate need to get her money. But these soldiers continue to move on.
I just read a stupid review in Amazon of the DVD that the film could've been only half an hour long if they have cut those long driving scenes, and probably he/she would have enjoyed it more. What a mind he has? Hasn't he realized how powerful those scenes are? It's a Kiarostami signature, I guess, as seen also in The Wind Will Carry Us, and even more longer. The long and winding road, our life is a never-ending search. Those beautiful landscape shots are immensely great that I can say that's one of the greatest ideas a man of cinema could create. It sums up all his viewpoints, his vision. Perhaps that's why the term, Kiarostamian, is coined. Those shots in TWWCU, crane shots I guess, of the village is unmatched of its beauty and philosophical points. That scene in Taste of Cherry where Mr. Badii is in the construction site and his shadow is being poured by sands, then a man approaches him to stay away, is of all positive superlatives of greatness I can give.
Abbas Kiarostami, along with Lars Von Trier, Wong Kar Wai Hou Hsiao Hsien and great others, are the ones who changed cinema in the 90s and flourished because of their works. But by right now, I'm pretty sure that Kiarostamian vision and his films will stand the test of time -- the same way Fellini, Godard and Tarkovsky left their mark in the world cinema.
Looking forward to see another film from him. Hopefully, I'll be lucky to see another one. I need Kiarostami to enlighten my mind.
Kindly share your thoughts about the film. Thanks.