A Taste of Cherry (Kiarostami, 1997)

With this deeply challenging and beautiful film, director Abbas Kiarostami explores the unspoken moments of pain that undoubtedly reside in each personal human experience. Kiarostami’s protagonist, a middle-aged Iranian man named Mr. Badhi, travels around a desert of industrial activity looking for someone to help him commit suicide. He comes across a Kurdish soldier, an Afghani security guard, and a Turkish taxidermist, all providing varying perspectives on Mr. Badhi’s life-ending decision. The ending, a revelation in terms of thematics, breaks down the film’s structure in order to create a new, complex connection between life and the movies.

A Taste of Cherry is the most difficult Kiarostami I’ve seen, mainly because of it’s experimental tendancies toward character development and the abstract ending. Mr. Badhi’s journey begins and ends with uncertainty, something film viewers don’t often like to feel, myself included. But Kiarostami wants his viewer to embrace the uncertainty we’ve grown to fear, reveling in the opportunities it brings to both life and art. Moments of change rarely come easily, especially in film. An intrinsic need to complete, finish, end, makes up much of what present day art codifies. It’s daring for a filmmaker to attempt a different approach in representing emotional and physical shifts, showing us the moments of panic and worry as well as clarity, which inevitably come few and far between. I have a feeling this film will grow with each time I see it.

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