Taste of Cherry
(Ta’m e guilass)
With Homayoun Ershadi, Abdolrahman Bagheri, Afshin Khorshid.
Iran/France, 1997, 35mm, color, 95 min.
Persian with English subtitles.
One of Kiarostami’s most celebrated films was also one of his most contentious, and not just with Iranian censors—it blindsided audiences everywhere. The premise is simple, if eccentric: a man drives around searching for someone to bury him after he commits suicide. Badii could ultimately be looking for an accomplice, witness or, perhaps, savior as he circles the existential, bare landscapes surrounded by sand and mountains and machines moving earth. Though apparently it was Kiarostami who was the off-screen passenger or driver during the making of the film, it is the viewer who is offered the position either opposite Badii or the witness to his unusual proposition. The questions accumulate as Badii bargains with each of his passengers—a young Kurdish soldier, an Afghan student of religion and an old taxidermist. Though the film’s allegorical richness, its reflective ambiguity, intricate references and compelling, suspenseful structure are enough to compose a profound cinematic experience, Kiarostami was not content with such a perfect enclosure. As the controversial ending thrillingly illustrates, a film like this cannot be contained; it must transform.