Setting his film in Japan partly because of the uniquely deep clash between tradition and modernity, Kiarostami picks up many of the strands he started in Certified Copy in this less surreal, less distanced study of knowing and not knowing. The reflections and projections now bounce among a trio of characters and are fogged by delusion and deception—or simply missed communications. The opening dialogue (I’m not lying to you…) is part of a disembodied one-sided conversation establishing the alienated, fragmented atmosphere—as well as the deceit inherent to film. The voice is that of Akiko, a college student who works as a prostitute. Already subject to objectification and the fulfillment of others’ fantasies, Akiko’s identity is particularly slippery, as much to everyone around her as to herself. Just who is she to her volatile fiancé, who knows nothing of her night life? Or her beloved grandmother she can’t bear to see? Or to the old, retired professor and translator who hires her one evening? “[Q]uestion marks are the punctuation of life,” states the director. “When it comes to showing human beings, complexity and concealment are a crucial part of the character.” As the projected identities collide with reality, rupture is inevitable.