“Certified Copy” is a strange film. I don’t believe that it was meant to be entertaining. Rather it’s considered “an ambulatory experience.” Driven by conversation, the film follows a couple who seems to have just met against the breathtakingly beautiful backdrop of Tuscany, in Italy.
An unnamed woman (Juliette Binoche) attends a lecture at which the author of a book (William Shimell) speaks about the concept of “real copy.” His premise is that a copy of an original work of art can be just as important as the original (citing Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns). She’s intrigued and invites him on a drive to a nearby village.
As their conversations unfold, the couple begins to act as though they’re married. Were they pretending to be strangers? Was their initial encounter fake and later that day, a reality? Is life imitating art or vice-versa?
These are the questions upon which “Certified Copy” revolves. At times it becomes tedious, but Binoche’s performance is so lovely to behold, one forgives. Long, lingering close-ups of her revealing countenances speak volumes without uttering a syllable. British opera star Shimell, in his first film role, is immensely impressive. He has a George Clooney-ness about him, even a resemblance.
Writer/director Abbas Kiarostami (“Five”) seems to have intentionally created a “copy” of an original film (possibly “Before Sunset” or “Journey to Italy”). The similarities are blatant and, thus, his film purposefully mirrors another, as does the relationship between his two main characters. Consider the title.
“Certified Copy” was written specifically by Kiarostami for Binoche. She honors him by delivering an astounding performance. For it, she received the “Best Actress Award” at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.
I must confess feeling confused after having watched “Certified Copy.” But, upon reflection, I sensed that this was Kiarostami’s intent. They say when a film feels like a small stone in your shoe it has left a lasting impression. I’m still trying to locate that pebble in my boot.
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