review for The Taste of Cherry on AllMovie

The Taste of Cherry (1997)
by Lucia Bozzola review

Abbas Kiarostami's A Taste of Cherry (1997) consolidated his international reputation as the top director to emerge from Iran's post-revolution movie renaissance. Working in his signature mode of repetition and ellipsis, Kiarostami's story of a man's enigmatic search to find someone willing to violate Islamic law by assisting him in committing suicide becomes a meditation on the stages of life and what makes it worth living. The multi-ethnic trio of men that enter Badii's Range Rover speaks to the social realities that enable Badii to make his request without having to explain himself; Kiarostami's refusal to show passenger and driver together in the car enhances Badii's existential isolation. Alternating between interior car shots and long shots of the car weaving through the hills, Kiarostami's striking images of the bronze autumn landscape metaphorically merge with Badii's wish to die, yet the golden sunset and the lone tree by Badii's chosen gravesite evoke the simple pleasures extolled by his last passenger. Leaving Badii's fate uncertain, A Taste of Cherry's coda provoked both derision and admiration, as Kiarostami forces the audience to reconsider whether a film needs to explain it all. A Taste of Cherry shared the top prize at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, confirming Kiarostami's and Iran's place at the vanguard of 1990s international art cinema.