Alan A. Stone in the Boston Review:
Imagine a jealous and angry lover; his childlike girlfriend who is secretly a call girl; and her newest client, an 80-year-old retired professor. Like Someone in Love brings together this unlikely mix of characters. The film is set in Tokyo but was written and directed by the renowned Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, who is apparently in difficulty with the authorities in Tehran and now working outside the country. His previous film, Certified Copy (2010), was made in Italy.
Kiarostami’s most celebrated Iranian film, Taste of Cherry (1997), produced conflicting reactions among discerning critics. It was awarded the Palme D’Or, but the late Roger Ebert gave it a decided thumbs down. Like Someone in Love has generated a similar response. Ian Buruma, who as a young man studied and worked in Japanese film, has proclaimed it “the best film ever made by a non-Japanese in Japan.” Lest anyone think this stinting praise, he adds, “It is a great movie tout court.” Yet Stanley Kauffmann believes Like Someone in Love is a failure and a betrayal of the films “rooted in Iranian culture and a love of it” that made Kiarostami famous.
Kiarostami’s earliest films embraced what critics describe as “earnest realism.” I take the earnestness to be a result of Kiarostami’s on-location depictions of the human condition. The films that earned him this reputation adopted the perspective of children in the villages of northern Iran.