Friday, April 8, 2011

Certified Copy (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
Certified Copy
The camera opens on "Certified Copy"  with an empty desk and a microphone. There is no hint of romantic dysfunction. But just wait.
The film stars Juliette Binoche as an anonymous antiques dealer whose only goal,it seems, is to get a stack of books signed by the author, James Miller, played by real-life opera star William Shimell. The dealer is a bit tense and high-strung. She has a badgering son (Adrian Moore). With his dark curls, conspiratorial eyes and olive skin, he looks like a Botticelli angel, suspicious and a bit sneaky.
The dealer covertly maneuvers herself next to the author's friend and gives her number. The author agrees to meet her at her shop and the shop is dim and winding, located in a basement space. It looks like Castle Dracula. Indeed, there is no one there. Then she appears like an anemic wraith. The dealer takes the author in her car.  Like life itself, on the surface of the everyday, nothing much happens.
They drive with no direction in mind.  Binoche's character talks of the commonplace: family, certain artifacts, and who might or might not be intelligent. The faces of Binoche and Shimell are superimposed  with skyscrapers: they are two faces of granite, stuck in their own immobility, stubborn and apart from each other despite the claustrophobic car. 
The dealer takes the car down a twisty Tuscan road. Aha! A roadside chapel with weddings in progress. She parks. Out of the blue, the dealer insinuates that they are a seasoned married couple. After much discomfort from the author, they pose for a picture.
At lunch, she spins an in-depth marital history, when the author leaves the cafe. 
The striking thing about "Certified Copy" is the seamless way that Juliette Binoche moves between rational thinking to something fanciful and eerie, just not quite right. Walking along the dusty Italian streets, the author is a passive cypher and the dealer is an impulsive chameleon, thirsty for a man to mimic.
The film moves with a sneaky slight of hand. Its philosophic meanderings point to films like "Mindwalk" and "My Dinner with Andre", but its traces of mania and happenstance, by Director Abbas Kiarostami  has a rhythm all its own.
The surprise at the end is an existential sigh at the bathroom sink, either pointing to a new adventure or serpentine entrapment. 
You decide.Write Ian at

No comments: