Wednesday, June 5, 2013

921. Ta'm e guilass/Taste of Cherry (1997)

Running Time: 95 minutes
Directed By: Abbas Kiarostami
Written By: Abbas Kiarostami
Main Cast: Homayoun Ershadi, Abdolrahman Bagheri, Safar Ali Moradi, Mir Hossein Noori
Click here to view the trailer

700 DOWN

Another quick update before my review: The copy of "Open Your Eyes" that I'd tracked down online isn't working properly for me. I'll try it again in the morning, but if it still isn't working I'll be forced to scramble and come up with a last minute replacement for that film. Stay tuned. By the way, current plans are for me to finish up the last movie and last review in the morning, make the TOP 20 tomorrow afternoon and post it either tomorrow night or Thursday. Now then...cherries and stuff...

"Taste of Cherry" is a pretty simple, little film and detailing it shouldn't take no time. Mr. Baadi (Ershadi) is driving around Tehran, Iran, looking for someone who will assist him when he kills himself the following morning. Basically the plan is for Mr. Baadi to take a bottle full of sleeping pills and lie down in a hole, that he's already pre-dug, beneath a cherry tree. If he's able to find someone to assist him, it will be that person's duty to come to him the following morning, at dawn and either A) cover him with dirt if, he's dead or B) help him out of the hole, if he's alive. He's offering 200,000 tomans for the man that will accept this odd job. First, Baadi picks up a soldier on his way to the barracks and a shy soldier at that. The soldier ultimately refuses to help out Mr. Baadi and ends up running away, perhaps thinking that Mr. Baadi is either crazy or that he has other motives. The second man that Mr. Baadi picks up is a seminarian and while he doesn't really try to talk Baadi out of suicide, he is stern that it goes against everything he believes in and that he cannot assist him. The third and last man that Mr. Baadi talks to is a taxidermist and because he has a child who is ill, he agrees to help Mr. Baadi. His name is Mr. Bagheri, a wise, old gentleman and as they drive through town, he tries to talk Mr. Baadi out of his decision


For those of you who have seen this movie and who have been following me for a long enough time, you probably already can kind of suspect what I'm going to say. You probably know my #1 gripe with this picture and the thing that ruined the entire movie for me...shall we say it together?...

The ending.

I'll get to the ending in a minute though. "Taste of Cherry" was a movie that I've been wanting to see for a very long time. I knew just by reading the plot that it sounded unusual and unique enough to be something special and just knew I'd like it, no matter what. And hey, I did like it. I mean, what's not to like? Oh sure, you'll have people who claim that it's boring, that it's just a man driving around in his car, talking to strangers, having the same conversations. But for me, it's right up my alley because I love dialogue driven movies and this is a movie where we're literally driving dialogue! The performances are very natural, almost like real conversations and it's probably a testament to Kiarostami, who sat either in the passenger's or driver's seat and played each scene like an interview, looking for genuine reactions from his actors.

Did I need to know why Mr. Baadi wanted to kill himself? Not at all. Did I need to know, in the end, whether Baadi lives or dies? Nope. However, would it have been nice to know both of those facts? Yes. Look, movies are storytelling, I think we can all agree on that. I've said it before and I'll say it again, don't give me this "interpret my own ending" bull crap. If you're a writer/director and you've got an idea for a film, then tell me a story. Show me things, let me all the way in and don't make me guess. I don't want to press this issue too much, because honestly, it wasn't that big of an issue for me. I'm fairly confident that we're given enough footage to know that Baadi probably dies in the end. Now, as it pertains to why he wants to kill himself, I'd have liked to have had a scene where he finally breaks down and tells Mr. Bagheri why he's committing suicide. In fact, when he runs back in to meet Mr. Bagheri, after dropping him off, I thought that's what we were going to get. However, it never comes and we're left to interpret. Why did you think Baadi was killing himself? Personally, I'd like to think he had a wife and she died. Perhaps he had a relationship like the one I have with my wife. Now, I could never do the relationship that my wife and I have justice with words, but let's suffice it to say that it's really something special and yes, if she were to pass away, I would probably want to pass away too. Well, I'd like to think that's what happened with Mr. Baadi and if I'm going to go ahead and thing that, then I can view the film a little easier, because now I can give Mr. Baadi the rest of his story, the story that we don't get from the STORYTELLER! Perhaps the spot where he wants to be buried was where they had their first date, first kiss, or maybe it's where they made love for the first time. These are my interpretations and I can draw from personal experiences/feelings (my wife) and make Mr. Baadi's journey more impactful. More impactful than if Kiarostami had just told me? I don't know.

Anyway, then there's that ending. No, not the one with Mr. Baadi lying in his grave. I'm sure he least that's my interpretation. No, I'm talking about the ending with the camera crew and Kiarostami himself appearing and even the actor who plays Baadi showing up. According to several online resources, it's apparently Kiarostami's way of telling us, "Don't worry. Don't cry, it's only a movie. Mr. Baadi is fictional and see, here's the actor that played him and he's just fine". Look, don't tell me it's only a movie. I pressed the play button, of course I know it's only a movie. I want to be emotionally rocked...that's what I paid for. No one goes into movies not knowing anything. Either we go to the theaters after seeing a trailer on television or we rent a DVD after reading the back of the box. When you read the synopsis or see the trailer for "Taste of Cherry" you're going in expecting to be emotionally wrenched. Now, there are some other interpretations, but the "don't worry" one seems to be the most popular.

At this point, I just really don't know how to take this film. In some ways, it was brilliant and in other ways I wanted a lot more. I loved it up to a certain point, but when it became apparent that we were going to have to help Kiarostami finish his ideas and then deal with that awful ending, it hurt the movie a lot. I was all prepared to come here and lay praise upon this picture and tell how I teared up a little at the end and really gush, but I didn't get to do that and with a few tweaks, it could've been the picture that I imagined it being. I really don't know...let me keep thinking...

RATING: 7/10  It's at least a '7', so there's that. Even now, I'm coming to terms with the fact that I had to interpret and I'm getting more comfortable with it, but I still think this film had much more potential and ultimately, despite the '7', I'm disappointed a little.


June 5, 2013  1:37am

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