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Certified Copy

Submitted by Commandrea on May 7, 2024 – 2:30 pmNo Comment

Certified Copy can mean many things to many people. It’s a foreign film by an internationally renowned Iranian filmmaker (Abbas Kiarostami) that unfolds in French, English with a smidgen of Italian.

CC is bold enough to delve into a kind of surrealism, or magical realism to use the current parlance, when one of the two main characters seems to become another character, although their appearance is the same as before. Maybe the reverse of, say, Bunuel using two different actresses for the same character in That Obscure Object of Desire. Plus there’s a lot of talking in Certified Copy, but since the conversation occurs between two specific people the feeling resembles a galloping genre version of other great films that basically consist of conversations, like My Dinner With Andre, or Mindwalk.

Kiarostami has the right touch for pace, story and below-the-surface content, and Certified Copy is just a joy to behold. Very few directors have the ability to make consistently great films, and while the taste of viewers who embrace this kind of filmmaking will no doubt lean towards art house product that only makes the whole affair sound even better.

Juliette Binoche attends a lecture given by a famous author (played by British opera baritone William Shimell). Over the course of the day they hook up and drive to a museum in the Italian town where the lecture takes place. All throughout we witness people who seem to talk to one another only to be revealed to be blathering angrily on a cell phone. A peripheral character played by Jean-Claude Carriere (who actually wrote Obscure Object of Desire) is seen berating his wife on the street but a second camera angle reveals him to be scolding his child on his cell phone.

But the layers of reality change even further in the second half where the author and Binoche seem to be transforming into a different married couple, and not an art gallery owner and a visiting writer. Before the film ends we’ve crossed over into some kind of alternate reality where this couple is not the same couple from the beginning of the story.

Kiarostami has at least one whole reel devoted to his stock set-up, a conversation inside a car. Certified Copy plays exclusive at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Brown Auditorium this weekend and next.

- Michael Bergeron

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