The great Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami (Close-up) travels to Tuscany for a luminous and provocative romance in which nothing is as it appears. What seems at first to be a straightforward tale of two people played by Oscar-winning actress Juliette Binoche (Blue) and opera singer William Shimell getting to know each other over the course of an afternoon gradually reveals itself as something richer, stranger, and trickier: a mind-bending reflection on authenticity, in art as well as in relationships. Both cerebrally and emotionally engaging, Certified Copy (Copie conforme) reminds us that love itself is an enigma.
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As the film progresses, Elle and James enter into increasing levels of intimacy, surprising the audience over and over. Of course most of us have been on this ride from meeting with attractive stranger to entangled attachment, to the frustration of expecting others to fulfill our wishes, to the suffering and arguments and finally to some measure of detachment. In the ride Kiarostami takes us on, we get to watch the process from the observer standpoint. We get to observe the ways that masculine and feminine magnetize; attract and then repel.
There is a wealth of symbolism here, from the statuary in Elle's antiques shop, to telephone conversations, to weddings and costume jewelry earrings and, indeed, a certified copy. I published a symbolic review of this film in my e book Poetry in Motion: 19 Symbolic Reviews of Transformational Film, here on Amazon (software for linking is not working right now).
Miller dropped by her shop and so begins a man meets woman story and we expect a romantic movie. But wait! As the story moves along, there's more to it! The story is purported to have happened in the course of one day, and in that time we are led by Director Kiarostami to a roller-coaster of a ride with unexpected turn of events up to the very end. Kiarostami left it to the viewer to determine how the story ends. He did this to his other movie, A Taste of Cherry.
Why is the movie titled Certified Copy? Is it a remake of Rosellini's Journey to Italy? Or are the main characters playing the roles of every husband and wife in the world, acting and reacting like any couple in a given situation?
Binoche is brilliant in this movie, deservedly winning the Best Actress award at Cannes. William Shimell likewise is the perfect foil to Binoche's mercurial character with his cold intellectual Englishness, feelings well under control until that scene in the restaurant.
This movie must be watched more than once to be able to form one's own interpretation and choice of ending. Were they husband and wife who came back to the town of Alezzo to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary? Maybe the scene on the coffee shop could help. Elle said she wanted to know what Miller meant about getting an idea for the book from a woman and her son he observed in a piazza in Florence five years ago.
Abbas Kiarostami is a deeply talented director who has given us the gift of his creations in film. I look forward to seeing his other work in future.
Looking forward to watch more films of the master.