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Taste of Cherry (Criterion Collection) (1997)

Cast: Homayoun Ershadi, Homayoun Ershadi, Afshin Khorshid Bakhtiari, more...
Director: Abbas Kiarostami, Abbas Kiarostami
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Criterion
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Middle East, Iran, Quest, Road Movies, Criterion Collection
Running Time: 95 min.
Languages: Far
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

Co-winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, The Taste of Cherry is the venerable Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's examination of life, death and the small miracles in between. Homayoun Ershadi?stars as Mr. Badii, a middle-aged man wishing to kill himself; driving his Range Rover across the arid outskirts of Tehran, he searches for someone to aid him in his final hours, someone who will agree to bury his body if he succeeds in his mission -- a planned overdose of sleeping pills -- or rescue him if he fails. Offering a large sum of money in exchange for services rendered, he first picks up a Kurdish soldier who ultimately flees in fear upon learning of Badii's plan; the next passenger, an Afghani seminary student, instead attempts to convince him of the sanctity of human life. Finally, Badii picks up a Turkish taxidermist who reluctantly agrees to check the body for signs of life; having long ago contemplated suicide himself, the taxidermist also tries to dissuade Badii from ending it all, accepting the offer only because he needs the money to care for his sick daughter. Kiarostami's refusal to answer the film's two most obvious questions -- exactly why does Mr. Badii wish to end his life, and does he successfully carry out his plan? -- invites viewers to share in his protagonist's plight by triggering their own powers of imagination. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Short, and beautiful by iwalrus May 29, 2006 - 10:07 AM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Do no watch "Taste of Cherry" if you need action to stay entertained, or if you are not a fan of introspective, all-about-life-itself films. Abbas Kiarostami, the only good Iranian film maker I am aware of, has created an amazingly heartbreaking film about suicide, religion, and ultimately life, while examing other themes such as serving one's country and rationalization of percieved sin. There is a reason why this film won the Palme D'or at Cannes: it isn't for the Hollywood types who dig purely on shallow films. Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry is perhaps comperable to another Palme D'or winner, Van Sant's "Elephant" (2003 winner). The stories aren't nearly the same, but the long tracking shots and following of characters in real time is similiar.
On the note of cinematography, Kiarostami has these fantastic profile shots that make the film twice as interesting if one can admire them. The manner in which the director refuses to put the main character and the people that he tries to enlist for help in the same frame -- thereby reflecting the character's refusal to connect emotionally with the plight of anyone but himself -- is inspiring.

The DVD is Criterion, so there is another indicator of the film's importance. Rent it, love it.

If you have Insomnia, this will cure it. Fast. by ABrooks May 30, 2005 - 5:35 PM PDT
2 out of 8 members found this review helpful
Sure, it was pretty. Sure, it was well acted...I guess. I mean the parts that I managed to stay awake through were really good. But I have to be honest here - It's like "My Dinner with Andre" but in a truck, in the desert. Seriously, the first half hour is the guy driving around the desert!
I like foriegn films, and thought provoking films as well, but I'll just come out and say it. This film was borring. Yep borring.

Searching for the Reason To Live by JMVerville March 5, 2005 - 12:21 AM PST
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Kiarostami strikes again with another provocative film, very much in the same vein as his others: drawn out films that involve a very introspective soul-searching of all of the character's involved, and in so doing, finding some more meaning to the idea of what life is all about.

From the beginning to the end, Kiarostami gives us a complex script of characters that we come into contact with, and as we learn about each one, we learn more about the idea of life. What makes the film very interesting for a Western viewer is that I find closer to Kiarostami's Iran after each of his films that I watch, and become more informed to it. We learn intimate details about the lives of several Iranians.

Throughout the film I found that, although like many of his films it was quite slow-paced, it contained the extraordinarily rich dialog that is expected of a Kiarostami film. His films advance through their rich dialog while using the dusty Iranian landscape as their backdrop. I found a lot of the cinematography to be terrific, viewing the city from a distance and looking into the dusty foot-hills on the outskirts of Tehran. It is more than poetic to see a man at the end of his rope searching through the dust and faces of Tehran's poor laborers for answers about life and death. In many ways, the film is a large metaphor for the human state of affairs.

The film culminates very well, and we all eventually find our own taste of cherry in the film. I always feel as if Kiarostami's films are a very philosophical experience, and are quite personal. In this sense, Kiarostami's films are amongst the best that I have seen.

However, they are undoubtedly slower paced than other films, and they require the viewer to detach himself from any western stereotypes that he has about film. This would not be a good film for somebody expecting action or a typical Western film, but rather, this would be a film that I would recommend only to those who are in the mood for an insightful, philosophical film that shows an alternative view of life. Overall, it was an emotionally powerful film that will stick out in my memory as all Kiarostami films do.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.21)
163 Votes
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