Certified Copy: Juliette Binoche in a Hall of Mirrors

Abbas Kiarostami's Certified Copy is exactly that: The Iranian modernist's first feature to be shot in the West is a flawless riff on our indigenous art cinema. An English author (William Shimell, an opera singer by trade) arrives in a Tuscan village to promote his new book, titled (of course) Certified Copy. After his self-satisfied presentation, the writer acts on an invitation that is never exactly spelled out, and pays a call on a never-named woman (Juliette Binoche, who won the Best Actress Award at Cannes last year) seen sitting prominently in the audience. Once Certified Copy, a movie of long takes and constant conversation, gets going, it's so fluid, it might easily be mistaken for facile. The movie is even pastiche Kiarostami in its headlong forward motion—first as the couple drives through the glorious Tuscan countryside, and later as they walk the medieval stone streets of the picture-book hill town Lucignano. When the pair stops for coffee, the cafe proprietress strikes up a conversation with Binoche, assuming that Shimell is her husband. Binoche plays along, making up the story of their marriage; surprisingly, he joins the game as well. Lucignano, as it turns out, is a popular wedding destination—which provides this pseudo-married pair ample opportunity to interact with a varied succession of other couples, even as they bicker away the afternoon. Unafraid to be annoying, Binoche holds the camera like a true star. Her nervous energy is the movie's motor. She's putting on an act; Shimell, appearing in his first movie, has only to react. He's the exasperated responding to the exasperating.

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