Friday, April 01, 2011

Certified Copy

Recklessly, I spent part of a sunny afternoon inside a movie theater to see Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy on its last day at the Clay. A writer (William Shimell), visiting Italy, gives a talk on his latest book, which questions the value placed on originals versus copies. An admirer (Juliette Binoche) invites him to a meeting, & the 2 spend the day together, driving out to a small village & discussing his thesis. Halfway through, they become a simulacrum of a husband & wife, & the talk shifts to marriage. Or at least I think that's what happens. The movie is a play of ideas & deliberately ambiguous. Kiarostami does not explain the relationship of the main characters, & revelations in the second half made me think I should have paid more attention in the 1st half. I felt like I needed to see it again as soon as it was over.

The movie is sensuously photographed, & there are many long takes. Some shots have a stark clarity, others are in shadow or obscured by reflections. The pacing is full of provocative interruptions. The writer's cell phone rings while he is delivering his talk, & he stops to answer it. In a building teeming with happy young couples getting married, we unexpectedly glimpse a bride with a scared, worried face. William Shimell, an opera singer in real life, is suave yet cooly distant as the writer. Juliette Binoche's character is a needy single mother with fluctuating emotions. She is captivating in a shot in which she puts on lipstick & earrings, looking at us as if we were a mirror. The movie is in a fluent mix of Italian, English & French & is very wordy.

§ Certified Copy
Abbas Kiarostami

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