Certified Copy Abbas Kiarostami

Certified Copy Abbas Kiarostami
"The world would be a better place if we were all just a bit more tolerant of each other's weaknesses," says Elle (Juliette Binoche), a French woman with an antiquities shop in Italy. She's speaking to an art historian (William Shimell) who lectures on the nature of artistic authenticity and originality. Their relationship may be nascent, playful and flirtatious or, as her knowing, passive comment suggests, a marriage of longevity and ideological conflict. This is part of the intrigue of Abbas Kiarostami's clever, romantic conversation drama, Certified Copy: we never know if these two lovers walking through the streets of Tuscany are married or just getting to know each other, since they play at both scenarios, leaving us to wonder what is the original and what is the performance? Their many conversations delve into the nature of perspective, suggesting that all people are mere copies of each other, performing an image or ideal of their particular demographic range, often moving inversely to question the act of questioning original art versus copy. We also get a sharp sense of gender imbalance and feminine versus masculine through language, since Elle tends to speak English to her British lover, despite being French and residing in Italy. She often speaks his language to placate him, switching over to French only when angry or distressed to force him into a different headspace. Often shooting the actors head-on, Kiarostami posits the film as an ersatz confessional of forced perspective, isolating the actors from each other so we can focus on a single emotional spectrum in a given scene. It's a testament to Binoche's acting prowess that we understand her frequent vacillation in mood and belief based entirely on minor facial expressions and body language tics. While invested in her seeming contentment or anxiety in any given moment, we are then reminded of how these moments of sincerity are simply manufactured performance in a film that lies to us without bragging about it. Unfortunately, no supplements are included with the DVD. (Mongrel Media)