Certified Copy: directed and written by Abbas Kiarostami
* The crux of the film rests on a twist, of sorts, somewhere at the halfway point. Knowing the twist doesn’t dilute the film’s worth, but spoilers abound.
James Miller is at a small function to talk about his new book “Certified Copy”. It’s a discourse on the artistic value of reproductions. Therein, we are introduced to what is to be the crucial theme of Kiarostami’s feature. A mother brings her uninterested son along to the function forcing her to leave early. We’re not exactly sure where the film intends to go from there when the next morning the writer shows up at the woman’s shop and the two head for a day out in Tuscany.
Thus, the film’s aim is to be a simple collection of conversation but that simplicity is not simply created. Kiarostami strikes gold in the form of his leading lady. Juliette Binoche’s work in The English Patient ranks as one of my favourite supporting performance but her work here is easily the finest I’ve seen her. She moves through the range of sensibilities from melodramatic to comedic in English, Italian and French. Opera singer William Shimmell represents both her foil and her ally. He doesn’t have the same fluidity of Binoche, but few actors do, and although his fustiness comes across a bit perceptibly it would seem that it is necessary for Binoche’s spritely characterisation to reach its potential. Our lady retreats to the bathroom to put her armour of lipstick and potentially fake jewellery which our critic fails to notice, and it leads a ferocious conversation - the film's highlight. The passion of it depends not on who they are, but how beautifully they interact.