Palme D'Or winning director Abbas Kiarostami, returns to film with
'Certified Copy' a film that is set over one day in Tuscany and follows
the chance meeting of a respected English author, James Miller (played
by opera singer, William Shimell) and a gallery owner (Juliette
Binoche), who remains unnamed. After being mistaken for a married
couple, the woman insists they keep up the pretence. However,
soon enough it appears there is more to the relationship than we first
Kiarostami has always had this theme of truth and fiction running
through his work, look at his script for 'Close Up' and 'Ten', where
the question regarding reality and its display are questioned by him as
well as the audience. And here he plays on that scheme and winks
at his own work, Miller's book he is promoting is about art and the
lecture he gives to accompany the promotion, is judging the value of
original works versus copies. In his speech Miller mentions the
title of his book, which some critics have deemed controversial, he
apologies blaming the editors who require controversial titles to sell
more books. Is Kiarostami having a dig at people who do not get his
slowburn works in comparison to other auteurs who have found favour?
The auteur should be commended for never deviating from his career's
work, his work can be thought of more as art than cinema, is there a
difference between the two, or is that another discussion he wants us
to engage in.
Himself lifting a premise not too dissimilar from Richard Linklater's
'Before Sunset' but on this occasion you do not know if this is a
married couple playing a game to stimulate a failing marriage, or a
couple who have just met - the audience have to stick with the film and
make a judgment for themselves, and at the end still not sure if it is
true or false.
Binoche illuminates the screen as always and Shimell has a real
presence on the screen in his first major feature film role, his work
in another form of the media giving credence to his role.
Kiarostami loves to mix in different medias to his work; an English
opera singer plays an English author, a French actress plays a gallery
owner in Italy. In one sentence I have mentioned opera,
literature, film and art. Kiarostami makes no excuses for his
love of all culture, and this attempt to tick all the boxes may smack
of reaching too far by others, on this occasion he gets the balance
The film is well acted and tightly scripted, expertly directed. The
opening monologue by Shimell is a great opening, you have him giving a
lecture but more often than not the camera is on his audience and a
young boy trying to get Binoche's attention. So in fact you get a
speech of no relevance, with some tidbits but there is a lot going on;
you get the results if you pay attention. Patience is a
profitable virtue with Kiarostami's films.
Recommended viewing for all people who eat up European auteur cinema
(yes I know the director is from Iran) but this work owes a huge debt
to the legacy of Antonioni and Bergman. Kiarostami carries the
torch those two have left behind.
Available on Blu-Ray (£19.99) and DVD (£15.99) from 17
January 2011 from Artificial Eye.