REVIEW: Taste of Cherry (1997)

tasteofcherry

iran-iconfrance-icon

1997, Abbas Kiarostami Productions/CIBY 2000/Kanoon

Director:
Abbas Kiarostami
Producers:
Alain Depardieu
Abbas Kiarostami
Writer:
Abbas Kiarostami
Cinematography:
Homayun Payvar
Editing:
Abbas Kiarostami

Cast:
Homayoun Ershadi (Mr. Badii)
Abdolrahman Bagheri (Mr. Bagheri)
Safar Ali Moradi (The Soldier)
Mir Hossein Noori (The Seminarian)

The late Abbas Kiarostami’s Palme D’Or winning film is a story about life and death told strictly in a narrative fashion.

Mr. Badii is a taxi driver who is driving around town looking for various customers. However, he has one intention in mind and it is when he picks up a vacationing soldier that his intentions are revealed. Mr. Badii is planning to commit suicide and he has already dug the grave. The only request he has is to have someone bury him. The soldier, shocked at the request, leaves him.

When Mr. Badii picks up a seminarian on temporary leave, he tells him his intentions, which leads to a discussion about religion and the views of life and death. Ultimately, the seminarian feels like he would be committing a sin for helping Badii with his request. However, it is when he comes across an elder taxidermist, hearing this third person’s story will decide Badii’s fate.

A minimalist film from Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, who lost his battle to cancer a few months ago, this is a very nicely made narrative film. As one of the Middle East’s great auteurs, Kiarostami brings us a tale of a taxi driver who decides to end his life. However, in the most interesting of stories, we never know why he decides to do it. Lead actor Homayoun Ershadi is great as Mr. Badii, because he doesn’t grieve or expect anyone to feel sorry. He plays his story off nonchalantly as he just is straight to the point.

The three co-stars who play the potential men who are asked to bury Badii perform quite well and look very comfortable in their roles. One can even think of the reactions in terms of ages in the film. The soldier, who ultimately becomes in utter shock, is a young man. The seminarian looks to be a little older, closer to more in his late 20’s or early 30’s, and gives a heartfelt discussion to Badii on the connections between religion and death. It is the last story of the taxidermist who looks to make the most impact on Badii as they have a connection.

What is very intriguing about this story is that it is done in a narrative manner and by that, meaning that there are no two-shots of the driver and the passenger. The camera will either take long shots of Baddi’s taxi or when the camera is inside, it will constantly switch from the driver to the passenger. This is an ingenious imagining of how to tell a story and it is clear that this artistic value rightfully earned Kiarostami his Palme D’Or award upon its release in 1997.

The film ends with a bit of a fade followed by a behind the scenes look at the film featuring Kiarostami and his crew working hard at making this film a reality.

Taste of Cherry is a beautifully made narrative about one man making his choice and the lives of three men who are asked to help him, all with different stories that could make an impact on this man’s choice.

WFG RATING: A

DVD

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