Movie review: ‘Certified Copy’ a delicate pondering of love, art, truth
There’s a delicious ambiguity at the core of Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami’s films, and especially so in the delicate, day-in-the-life meditation, “Certified Copy.”
In this subtly written and sublimely acted story – focusing on a British author visiting northern Italy and spending a rambling, talky afternoon with a lovely French antique-shop owner – the relationship that gradually unfolds between this appealing, erudite pair is the stuff of lovely mystery.
Kiarostami, maker of such deceptively simple and finely wrought films as “A Taste of Cherry,” “The White Balloon” and “Through the Olive Leaves,” is celebrated as a poet, painter, photographer and experimental filmmaker and here he keeps audiences off balance by seeming to indulge in a bit of straight narrative.
It starts off simply enough: the writer James (charmingly played by opera singer William Shimell) meets up with new acquaintance Elle (a radiant Juliette Binoche) for a philosophical ramble around Tuscany. She’s apparently a fan of his writing, and their easy, meandering discussion touches on the nature and purpose of art. They ponder the boundaries between artifice and reality and whether the authenticity of an artwork really matters as long as it is aesthetically pleasing.
In its larger contours, Kiarostami’s film shares some qualities with Richard Linklater’s “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset,” in which two attractive strangers walk and talk and muse gorgeously against a picturesque backdrop.
But Kiarostami’s intent is much less straightforward. As James and Elle’s day progresses, a playful element of uncertainty comes to the fore. At one moment, the two are mistaken for a married couple by people they meet. And, tacitly, they take up the charade and begin to bicker and banter like an old marital partners.
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