Film Scouts Reviews

"Ta'm e guilass (A Taste of Cherry)"

by Kathleen Carroll

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The much-acclaimed Iranian filmmaker, Abbas Kiarostami, casts a spell for a time with this thought-provoking parable. His hero, a middle-aged man, is seen driving a Range Rover in the desolate outskirts of a city.

His is definitely an odd quest. For he has already dug his own grave in preparation for taking his life and now he's searching for someone to bury him. The possible candidates, a shy Kurdish solider and an Afghani seminarian, are understandably put off by this agitated stranger and his disturbing request. This, after all, is a Moslem country where suicide is strictly forbidden by the Koran.

Eventually an elderly taxidermist responds by trying to talk him out of it and reminding him of the beauty of nature. To his credit the director never gives reasons for the character's despair but the impoverished, ugly landscape would depress anyone. The film is increasingly compelling until Kiarostami pulls one of his favorite tricks by showing his film crew. The effect is disconcerting for it seems to make a mockery of the entire film.

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