Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997, Iran)

#92 in my list of the top 100 spiritually literate films is A Taste of Cherry. This film involves a heavy story about moral dilemmas. It is about a down and out man that quietly spends the day traveling the wastelands of an Iran countryside trying to find someone who will bury him after he commits suicide. We join him as he makes this proposition to three individuals; a soldier, a seminary student, and a scientist, and witness their reaction. Each of these conversations affects the man differently and causes him to see his situation from different perspectives, and yet he still faces his own difficult decision.

A Taste of Cherry is a slow and tedious film that does not manipulate the viewer’s emotions with unrealistic dramatic tension. Instead, it is filled with silence and texture. It is a film that offers no easy answers. We are not told why the man wants to kill himself and are left ambiguously wondering if he ended up doing so in the end.

And so, as in life, where there is an absence of answers there are an abundance of questions. Where does God’s sovereign will begin and end. When does God step back and let us decide our own fate? How can one find hope in the middle of suffering? This is where truth steps in. We join the three individuals in pleading with the man to reconsider. As Christ followers, we understand that life is more than the temporary and God always desires to lead us to greater things.

The ending forces you to contemplate your own life and give an account. Something that is a healthy practice for all believers. In it, Kiarostami leaves you with something resembling a rebirth, and yet just what type of rebirth the man experiences is left for the viewer to decide. The rebirth into eternal life or the rebirth into a new vision for his life on earth. Perhaps, more importantly than that, this film asks you to consider your own immortality and eternity, which leaves you plenty to think about.

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