Taste of Cherry

A man with a hangdog face circles the scrubby outskirts of Tehran in a dust-colored Range Rover, looking for someone to do a job. We're left in extended suspense as to the nature of his proposition; when at last we learn what the driver, Mr. Badii, wants-to die-his motivation is never explained, his anguish never explored. Instead the film gives us afternoon light and lengthening shadows, the calling of crows, and a series of conversations between Mr. Badii and his passengers: a callow Kurdish soldier, an Afghan seminarian, and a Turkish taxidermist relentless in his argument for life. Taste of Cherry, which shared the Palme d'or at Cannes, is both formally studied and freighted with emotion in its contemplation of the gaps and connections between driver and passenger, shot and reverse shot, viewer and viewed. "Do you want to close your eyes?" asks the taxidermist. After the fadeout comes a kind of answer.

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