Precious Bodily Fluids

Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997)

The nearly incessant radio static provides a sonic point of reference for the ongoing, inane search that is (or appears to be) the film’s narrative. As if to warn Western audiences as to its lack of Western ambition, we don’t get the typical shot-reverse-shot that classical Hollywood audiences expect to get. Instead, the camera lingers on the protagonist in a medium-closeup for much of the film, even when a conversational context would prompt many filmmakers to give us more views of the interlocutor. Landscapes dwarf this figure, often simply through the background, seen through the driver’s-side window. POV shifts from the protagonist to the car, but most of the time is simply the camera itself. This becomes clear at the film’s notorious, even infamous, ending. There’s no musical soundtrack until the finale, when the film somewhat violently displays its artificiality with B-roll footage and a Louis Armstrong trumpet piece. This film is extremely “slow” from a narrative point of view: nothing “happens,” or things happen very slowly with lots of false alarms. We think that maybe he’s found the proper candidate for the job, but then there’s the question of whether there will be a job to do. There isn’t, since it’s a construction, a film. Seemed at first that this film was a kind of phenomenology of a tree, but in the end it’s a phenomenology of (a) film. Taste of Cherry is just more honest than most, by eschewing a diegetic conclusion in favor of documentary. Is it suggesting that this is all film ever is?

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This entry was published on May 14, 2014 at 4:10 pm. It’s filed under 1990s Cinema, Abbas Kiarostami, Iranian Film, Photoessays and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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