XL Popcorn – Taste of Cherry

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 700/1007Title: Ta’m e guilass (Taste of Cherry)
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Year: 1997
Country: Iran

It’s taken me nearly a year and a half, but I have finally made my way into the next hundreds for the 1001 movies list. Since it is such an odd number (seriously, 1007 is not a nice number for these sorts of things) I know that 700 isn’t the most meaningful landmark to hit, but it’s nice to know that I really am just that bit closer to my end goal.

I picked Taste of Cherry as film 700 for one main reason: it has been two years since I last watched an Iranian film (I believe that was Gabbeh) and I have waited long enough. Also, this is a film that I have been wanting to see for ages – ever since I saw L’enfant by the Dardenne Brothers and thought it would be a good idea to watch all the winners at Cannes. Spoiler alert: I never followed through.

Despite all the long takes of sprawling scenery, Taste of Cherry is an intimate film centred around a middle-aged man who is looking for someone to bury him once he commits suicide. We watch him converse with a number of people that he picks up in his car (a soldier, a religious man and a taxidermist) who are all of different ethnicities to him (Kurd, Afghan and Azeri respectively). Through this we get a number of interesting looks into the dilemma of how best to answer this man’s macabre request.

The weird ending aside – which is a small making of scene where we see them filming soldiers running in the distance – this film left me wondering about whether he actually did go through with his planned suicide in the end. Since we’re never privy to why he wants to end his life, I guess we’ll never know. Due to how he seems to waver in his final discussions with the taxidermist, I think he may have decided not to – especially seeing how scared he looked laying in his own grave.

I still prefer Through the Olive Trees and Close-Up to Taste of Cherry, whilst I really did appreciate the questions raised and the mood that Kiarostami was able to cultivate through his use of silence and long takes – there were a number of sections that allowed to mind off of the film rather than keeping me engaged. Also, like with Yol the level of acting by some of the non-professional actors kept snapping me out of the disbelief.

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