Thursday, January 5, 2012

Certified Copy (Copie Conforme)

Directed (and written) by Abbas Kiarostami, MK2 Productions, 2010.

Starring: Juliette Binoche and William Shimell.

Genre: Drama

Question: Do you ever find it hard not to relate to or be affected by a film? I do, all the time.

Some make me laugh and I will randomly giggle when thinking about certain moments of the story. Some make me cry and I will shed a tear if I allow any memories in. And then some freak me out that I will have to sleep with the light on if recall any of the scary parts. Then there are the ones where you watch a couple of actors converse in what first appears nonsensical or of little importance, but a switch is flipped in your consciousness, and you soon realize that everything they are saying has a profound point. That is Certified Copy. Once the switch flipped for me, my heart just sank. This one ended up tossing me about that I know this one will be with me for the long haul.

I was in the mood to watch a movie but a really good one. Fortunately, Netflix has categories based on what you have watched and then list others they feel you may enjoy. Under the "Critically-acclaimed" list I found Certified Copy. Actually I already had it in my instant play queue when I went looking a few days ago in the "New Arrivals" list, but my queue is REALLY long, and sometimes I find it difficult to decide what to watch and review next. However, Netflix had One Flew of the Cuckoo's Nest, Young Frankenstein, Reservoir Dogs and Apocalypse Now, 4 of my all time favorite movies, on the "Critically-acclaimed" list so I immediately hit play without knowing anything about it.

Well, that's not entirely true. I knew Juliette Binoche starred in it and that it was a story about love and art. Plus it was set in Tuscany. I adore Italy, worship art and I wish I could be as alluring as Juliette Binoche. So I was content when I started the film, but I didn't stay that way long.

The opening of Certified Copy started off with no music, views of people or even a panoramic shot of Italy. The camera focused on a large stone mantel with a table and a couple of microphones on it. Then all you hear are people talking slightly above a whisper. It was a little disconcerting as this went on for a few minutes. I was waiting for something - a person to pop into screen, the camera to move or a change of scenery. But nothing for a few more minutes. Finally, a person came into view speaking Italian (there were sub-titles) to announce that the writer is running late for the lecture. I relaxed again as the story moved forward.

The writer finally arrived - a handsome middle-aged British man - and he begins to speak about his book, "Certified Copy", which is about reproductions of original pieces of art and his theory that all copies are just as authentic as the the original objects. He also claims the originals are also reproductions themselves.  Soon a beautiful middle-aged woman walks into the lecture hall. She seems intrigued with the writer. No more detail - that is enough for now.

The discussion of his theory is transported forward for nearly 30 more minutes when the two people meet up. At this point I was uncertain where the story was heading but it kept my interest. However, there was some strange or odd behavior by both parties that I couldn't quite figure out. The story went in and out of a foreign language: Italian or French - all with sub-titles but half of the movie was in English. For those who don't like subtitles this one wasn't bad - although I had to rewind a few moments to make sure I knew what they said. However, it wasn't so much for my slow reading ability but something I believe the film-maker was trying to "trick" us with. (So pay close attention.) Immediately trompe l'oeil or "trick of the eye" popped in my head when I finally realized what was going on in Certified Copy. Brilliant!

Now you know I am not going to tell you any more about the story, but I will say Juliette Binoche was mesmerizing as her role of the middle-aged woman trying to converse with this "stranger". There were moments of pure tenderness and then there were times of utter sorrow that only a select few people, I believe, could relate to in this story. Are you one of them? You will just have to find out.

Certified Copy is an original story and one that I believe not many will enjoy. You must have patience and an understanding that this tale doesn't take a typical path. Plus, as in real-life, there aren't answers to everything and there aren't always cathartic moments that allow you to let go of the story once it is over. Many use films to escape the drudgery of their world, but some films draw you right back into the things you fear or sadden you the most. So if you are looking for an uplifting, overly romantic love story - I suggest you watch something else. However, if you want to be surprised, witness a real relationship between two people and decide for yourself how it ended - then Certified Copy is your movie.

My favorite thing: When I realized what I was really watching.

My least favorite thing: Not gonna say.

Rating: UR
Length: 106 minutes

Review: 9 out of 10

Click on film poster to view film: 

1 comment:

Jen and Tonic said...

I love Juliette Binoche. I think she’s one of those women who is flawless in every way.

The part of your review which makes me want to see this is when you said, “Plus, as in real-life, there aren’t answers to everything and there aren’t always cathartic moments that allow you to let go of the story once it is over.” This is exactly what I like in a movie. I love when art imitates life.

Great review!