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طعم گيلاس‎‎ [1997)

Don’t kill yourself, my friend.

I try to preserve the original language.

From France to Romania and now Iran.

It says Taste of Cherry.  And it is a film beyond perfection.  Directed by Abbas Kiarostami.

[if you are on a laptop or desktop it may appear to have no title…not very Farsi-friendly this WordPress]

Long ago I saw this quiet juggernaut.

If you’ve never seen an art film, you’ll know the genre when you see it.

Perhaps this was my first.

At an Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas.

How did I end up there?

More importantly, how did I end up here?

This (the latter) seems to be the vexing question which actor Homayoun Ershadi is asking himself while embodying the suicidal character Mr. Badii.

Never have I seen an actor say so much with such economy of means.

Driving around.  Driving around.

We are suffocated by the expressionless Mr. Badii.

It reaches a head (of sorts) in the quarry.  He’s had enough.

Our protagonist cannot even secure the most essential human contact.  He cannot find even a marginal friend.

We do not know his story.  It would be impossible for anyone to have complete empathy.

He is right.  Your pain is yours alone.

But maybe a miracle is waiting…

Enter Abdolrahman Bagheri.

I have never felt such emotion in a film.

It is real.  As Mr. Bagheri (his name in the film and real life) recounts his own suicide attempt we are brought into a rarefied talent for dialogue which I have only seen in Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s novel Voyage au bout de la nuit.  Hope in the midst of nihilism.  The deepest, darkest desperation pierced by humor…or humanity.

It places Kiarostami (at least in this film) as a forerunner of the Romanian New Wave.  The trappings are similar.

We see the most depressing back alleys of urban sprawl.  Gravel paths not yet claimed entirely from the grasp of the earth.

Earth.

This film is all about earth.  Dirt.  The dust of impressionism.  Concrete.

Rocks being broken up.

A man (Mr. Badii) whose only longing is, seemingly, to be dead.

Earthmovers, earthmovers everywhere…and not a load to spare.

I have never seen a film like this.

Yes, it fits into the art film genre, and yet…it forges ahead…a new path…take the fork to the right, please.

This film is a testament of hope for the Afghan people.

A testament of hope for the Kurds.

A testament of hope for the Azeris.

And, most of all, this eternal masterpiece is a testament to the genius of Iran.

May the future be as beautiful as the colors of the setting sun.

Even if that sun must piece the sadness of cranes and smog in Tehran.

I will look for the sun if you will…my dear friends.

-PD

7 responses to “طعم گيلاس‎‎ [1997)

  1. migarium

    Ta’m-ı gilas:)

    After a long break again you brought out a common film which I watched too. Your movie treasure is so great that, my dear Earthling friend, I ve been waiting for a long time:)

    Death and life are side by side in this film. As if a swing is swinging between life and death.

    My favorite scene in the film the old man says to the man who wanted to commit suicide
    “we go over long way, it’s stones but it is beautiful,” It was the best scene for me.

    It is a beautiful way to describe the life has challenges but beautiful, had been told by a wonderful scene 🙂

  2. BeeHappee

    Oh, thank you for this one!! I saw it decades ago, not in a drafthouse, now need to go back and watch it again after growing up some.

  3. I’m going to have to watch this one again. I never felt such a close connection with Kiarostami, but I’ve been wrong before.

    The Romanian New Wave connection you point out instantly struck me, so it might have been a case of me thinking about it in the wrong way.

    Glad to see you back in stride.

    • I have to admit this is the only Kiarostami film I’ve seen. It made quite an impression on me because I saw it before my passion for film really took hold. In perusing the surface details of his other films it seems that he has gone in a more commercial direction since this time. I could be way off regarding that. It always strikes me as kinda sad when directors are coopted by the French and stop making films in their native language. Then again, it’s far preferable to bring coopted by Hollywood. I suppose France is the Hollywood of art films. You know things are messed up when Cahiers du cinema has J.J. Abrams on the cover. –Paul

      • J.J. Abrams? I didn’t know Cahiers had gone that far.

        I’m definitely out of my depth with Kiarostami’s whole body of work. It’s definitely extensive. I’ve seen three films the earliest being this one, so I’m probably generalizing unfairly.

        I think you’re right about the direction. I remember thinking that Shirin was basically a commercial film with art house pretensions, which I found more annoying than commercial films. But I don’t remember so wonderfully.

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