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"Taste of Cherry" (1997) Abbas Kiarostami

Abbas Kiarostami’s “Taste of Cherry” is a melodrama journey film starring Homayoun Ershardi as Mr. Badii. The main idea was that Mr. Badii was lost with himself and wanted to commit suicide, so he decided to drive aimlessly in the mountains in his 2 door Range Rover Classic. Upon his journey, he met several people that were laborers and he wanted to pay them for digging a hole so he can be buried once he committed suicide but was never stated directly to them in the initial conversations. The movie also ties into Islamic religious beliefs, specifically what the religious laws were back in the day.

The main setting mostly took place in a vehicle, which was common for Kiarostami’s films like his 1990 film, “Close Up”, except most of the scenes were in more rural and mountainous scenes. The area was also mostly industrial and almost entirely run down. In simple, the area Mr. Badii was in at first was illustrated like how it was like back in the mid 1990s, where the area likely has not recovered since the wars. Religion dominated Iran, where people had to follow each law from the Koran and many people were not liking what is bad from it.

Throughout the film, Mr. Badii stopped to meet several people throughout his journey in his Range Rover. The first person he met was a soldier, and he was not interested in Mr. Badii’s job offer for 200,000 tomans. The soldier knew what Mr. Badii wanted and he finally refused, surrendered and walked away from the worksite, when Mr. Badii had to continue driving and move on. His second encounter on his journey was a security guard at a construction site, where they had a brief conversation that he was going to go see the seminarian and again, the security guard refused to go with Mr. Badii in the Range Rover. Then, he picked up the seminarian and took him into a ride and then the seminarian stated that killing yourself is against the Koran and a bad will. Finally, Mr. Badii meets another man, Mr. Bagheri who continued to elaborate on the seminarian’s details and he was able to help him out of what he wanted to do. From that to beyond the ending, viewers walked out of this movie to come up with some ideas and possibilities of what happened to Mr. Badii.

The overall theme and intention for this film was that Kiarostami wanted viewers to see Mr. Badii’s depressing moments before likely committing suicide and to figure out what would happen to Mr. Badii after the movie turns off the screen. It was possible he recovered and did not kill himself, or he did kill himself and Mr. Bagheri did bury him or finally if he just continued driving aimlessly for many more weeks to come. The perspective of the film changed from a movie style to a documentary style because it was likely that Kiarostami wanted to show the viewers that the story is ending in an open perspective. Viewers that deal with mental health problems or working through difficult life situations can easily illustrate how their life can be similar to Mr. Badii, so they can change their way of thinking or their way of rational thinking. Although this was religion oriented, this can also be personal oriented because anything can cause mental distress.

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Michael Atkinson
Michael Atkinson
Mar 13, 2021

Fair enough, but do you really think it's a film about depression or mental illness? The bare-bones narrative hook is barely substantiated by anything; we never find out anything about Mr. Badii. (Actually, by watching him so patiently we do learn a lot, but nothing factual.) Anyway, think about what the film was like to watch, and maybe that that experience is AK's subject: the passage through the landscape, the meetings, the exploratory conversations, the ways in which the characters talked around the social rules they live under (and still do, mostly), the sense of people being separated in modern culture (symbolized by the Rover) and then trying to connect and understand. There's also the fact of reality intruding on…

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