When it was first released in Iran,the film was deemed controversial, some even argued for its ban, since it dealt with a rather sensitive subject to its Muslim audience; suicide. Viewed today, the film is far from controversial. This is a melancholic piece about death, life, and free will that will have its audience contemplating the joys of being alive.
Opening with the main character Mr. Badii, played to perfection by Homayoun Ershadi, as he roams the outskirts of Tehran, interviewing people on the street from the window of his SUV, much like Jonathan Glazer’s Under the skin, except Mr. Badii is not looking for human targets to turn into processed meat to send them back to his mother planet, instead he is looking for a laborer to help him with a very specific job. The job is simple, the man is to bury Mr. Badii who has already dug his very own grave, and was ready to merely lie in it and die. In his search, Mr. Badii encounters many different characters, and has a lot of eye-opening conversations, some of which may eventually lead him to change his mind. Alas, we will never know.
With its slow pace and remarkably yellowish color palette, Taste of Cherry is a pensive work of art that explores the mind of a man determined to take his own life. The reasons for Mr Badii’s decision remain unknown , but his despair is definitely known to the audience, as it hangs around his sad and wistful face, almost like an aura that surrounds him. His arguments with the characters he meets are fascinating at the very least. When arguing with a young Afghani seminarian who refuses to do the task due to its illegitimacy according to his religious beliefs, Mr. Badii insists on the rationality of his decision as he believes that God has given man the ability to take his own life for a reason, and for that he does not consider his very own suicide sinful. However, what Mr. Badii may not realize is that he has also been given the choice of enjoying life.
The last character that Mr. Badii picks, and the only one that actually agrees on carrying out the task, is an old Turkish taxidermist, who engages Mr. Badii in a conversation about the beauty of life, and tries to get Mr. Badii to realize that sometimes even the worst of problems can be overcome by having a Taste of Cherry, and ultimately a taste of life. Though it may not be Kiarostami’s finest work, the film is definitely an elegant piece of cinema that will be remembered by its audience, if not for anything but the pleasantly surprising ending scene.