Taste of Cherry
Co-winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, The Taste of Cherry is the venerable Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's examination of life, death and the small miracles in between. Homayoun Ershadi stars as Mr. Badii, a middle-aged man wishing to kill himself; driving his Range Rover across the arid outskirts of Tehran, he searches for someone to aid him in his final hours, someone who will agree to bury his body if he succeeds in his mission -- a planned overdose of sleeping pills -- or rescue him if he fails. Offering a large sum of money in exchange for services rendered, he first picks up a Kurdish soldier who ultimately flees in fear upon learning of Badii's plan; the next passenger, an Afghani seminary student, instead attempts to convince him of the sanctity of human life. Finally, Badii picks up a Turkish taxidermist who reluctantly agrees to check the body for signs of life; having long ago contemplated suicide himself, the taxidermist also tries to dissuade Badii from ending it all, accepting the offer only because he needs the money to care for his sick daughter. Kiarostami's refusal to answer the film's two most obvious questions -- exactly why does Mr. Badii wish to end his life, and does he successfully carry out his plan? -- invites viewers to share in his protagonist's plight by triggering their own powers of imagination.