Abbas Kiarostami’s 1997 film, Taste Of Cherry is a rather unusual experience. By unusual I mean that the majority of the film is an afghani man driving through the desert in his range-rover. Now, answer me this question: How dull does that sound? The correct answer is very. Despite this, Taste Of Cherry manages to be an enthralling experience that takes you into the mind of a man ready for death.
The film focuses on an elderly afghani man known only as “Mr. Badii”, and Mr. Badii, for no known reason, is ready to leave this world through suicide. The entire plot revolves around what he requires to complete this task which is another man willing to knowingly allow Badii to take sleeping pills and get in a hole, and then come back the next morning to either help him out or bury him with dirt. Obviously this isn’t a task that most people would take on due to the fact that it is essentially assisted suicide. In there lies the plot. This man goes and finds someone who wants a job. Drives them around, gets to know them, finds their weak spot that would allow things to be negotiated, plays off it, gets rejected, repeat. In the time that he is going to these people, the director is building a portrait for the viewer. With every failure and every shut down the character of Mr. Badii gets more and more desperate. This where you get close to the man emotionally. This is only possible through the performance by Homayoun Ershadi.
Homayoun Ershadi manages to deliver a truly excellent performance in this film. In fact, the only reason why this film really manages to land an emotional blow on the viewer is because of his performance. He portrays this tired and withered old man who is ready to go, and steadily changed his character ad the film goes on. He shows more desperation in his eyes, in his mannerisms, the way he speaks. All of it is tunes to perfection to allow us to spend an hour an a half in the life of Mr. Badii. This is an emotionally tense part to play. This character is essentially going through an emotional breakdown, but the thing is that it is never really said. Most of the information about the character has to be inferred based on the acting. This results in the quality of the film relying solely on the acting. This isn’t a bad thing in this case. With most other actors is would be, but not here. Instead of delivering an over-zealous performance or a monotone performance, Ershadi gets it just right.
The acting talents of Ershadi are especially displayed in the final scene where Mr. Badii is lying in his whole, staring at the sky. Following that moment the entire screen goes black. Everything is gone. All of a sudden there is lightning, and for a brief moment you see his emotionally destroyed face. He looks regretful, he looks angry, but most of all he looks entirely unsure. But then the film ends, and all you are left with is the image of his face staring up at the sky and you think to yourself “Did he die? Was it the right thing to do?” That is the genius of films like this. They take you in deep, and when they throw you out you are left with the memory of moments like that.
Very good overall.