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Review: Something Original (Certified Copy)

Certified Copy is an ingenious piece of work from writer/director Abbas Kiarostami. It’s essentially a 106-minute film of inquisitions – luckily for us, they are more than interesting. This is undoubtedly a provocative film. But it is not, despite a slew of shining positive attributes, a great picture.

The film is set over one long afternoon in Tuscany. It casts Juliette Binoche as a French antiques dealers who happily invites a famed English writer (William Shimell) to go see a museum and possibly make some detours on the way. The two unique individuals, who’ve never meet before today – are accidentally seen as a married couple – and soon decide to go along with the game. Role-playing seems fun at first, but laughs quickly escalate to serious conversations on family, love, and commitment. Add in some sexual attraction, highbrow drama, and flirtation – and there you have it: a dark, enigmatic, and more often than not, polarizing film about marriage and the notion of originality.

What kept Certified Copy entertaining throughout were the brilliant performances from both William Shimell and Juliette Binoche. The two are likable actors – who instantly draw in believability to their “fake” relationship. As the film transcends into its final sequences it becomes clear that these two are one of the better on-screen pairings to come around in quite sometime.

Adding excellence to the film is the breathtaking cinematography by Luca Bigazzi – who gives the film its own natural ebb and flow. And one could not forget the unique use of tracking shots slathered throughout the picture. All of this and more make Certified Copy, certifiable.

Regardless of all the aspects of the film I cherish – Certified Copy contains an oddly weak opening 30 minutes. Director Abbas Kiarostami drags his film through a bland and sluggish narrative – as he tries to establish a starting ground for his characters. Still, it wasn’t the inconsistent pacing or unsatisfying opening that brought the overall product down – it was the film’s constant need for raising questions – than quickly abandoning them. No easy answers are offered, which is fine, but it feels as if Kiarostami adds a numerous amount of inquisitions to toy with the viewer – rather than satisfy.

Though, what can be said about Certified Copy is that it makes the audience think – which is more than you can say about the majority of modern day releases. Here’s a film that you can react and respond to in many different perspectives. The final 30 minutes are engrossing and the performances from the leads are mesmerizing. Sure, the final product doesn’t live up to some of the films other features, but Certified Copy is an original work of art – and that’s something we all can be thankful for.

(***/****)

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