Director: Abbas Kiarostami Writer: Abbas Kiarostami Stars: Rin Takanashi, Tadashi Okuno, Ryo Kase Abbas Kiarostami is preoccupied with my tape recorder. He wonders if it's too far away from where he's sitting. He makes his translator switch from one side of him to another so that the recorder is between them. After a while, clearly still anxious about it, he picks it up and sets it down on a side table directly next to him. I can't tell if he's really worried about my sound, or if he's obliquely commandeering our conversation. "Where should I go?" I ask, half seriously. "Wherever you want," he says.
Then, without prompting—"something personal I can tell you"—he relates this to his way of making films. The idea, he says, signature dark glasses perched on a smooth, untilled f ace that suggests a younger and even handsomer James Caan (both are 72), is to create a situation in which everyone feels most natural, in which the recording device isn't central but secondary to the emotions and interactions at play. "I leave much more freedom than you'd expect to actors," he says. "I'm not going to be the one to give them instructions. I'll just create the right conditions, the right atmosphere, and then let them live."
The filmmaker is celebrated for his meticulously conceived shots and sequences—even after 40 years, every composition, every move of his camera is singular and provocative. In his new film, Like Someone in Love, about an unlikely love triangle between a call girl, her jealous boyfriend, and a retired professor, Kiarostami juices tension from a static shot of three people in a car, and pans around a one-bedroom apartment as if it were a previously undiscovered planet.
After spending his entire career in his native Iran, government crackdowns on speech—the likes of which led to the house arrest of Kiarostami's former protégé Jafar Panahi—have effectively exiled him. These developments would seem potentially crippling for an artist whose work has been so rooted in his homeland, one whose elegant, unobtrusive style seemed so well paired with Iran's spare, arid landscape in films like Through the Olive Trees, Where The Wind Will Carry Us, and Taste of Cherry, winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Yet even when he still made films in Iran, Kiarostami often struggled to get them approved for domestic distribution. That effectively made him a "filmmaker of the world" in terms of audience, if not necessarily intent. Now with his two most recent films—the Italian-set, French-English-Italian language Certified Copy, starring Juliette Binoche, and the Japanese language, Tokyo-set Like Someone in Love—he's fully evolved into an auteurist globe-hopper.