Sunday, April 17, 2011

Certified Copy (Rhoades)

“Certified Copy”
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

One of my favorite movies about marriage is “Two For the Road,” that Albert Finney-Audrey Hepburn classic. In it Finney asks, “What sort of people sit with each other at a restaurant without even thinking to talk to one another?” The answer: “Married people.”
Contrarily, the new film by Iranian-born director Abbas Kiarostami called “Certified Copy” is about how married people talk with each other. It’s currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.
In it, a British author (played by opera singer William Shimell) is signing books at a shop in Tuscany. There he encounters a French antiques dealer (portrayed by the terrific Juliette Binoche) who wants him to autograph a book for her young son. The book (like the movie) is titled “Certified Copy,” a tome that argues originality in art is irrelevant because every reproduction is in itself an original. One thing leads to another, and she takes the author on a tour of the beautiful Italian countryside.
A tour of Tuscany is reason enough to see a movie (to wit: “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “Letters to Juliet,” “Stealing Beauty”), but this one offers a surreal overlay worth exploring.
Mistaken for an old married couple, the author and the antiques dealer enter into the charade, carrying on a conversation as if they have been together 15 years. But it’s just pretend … or is it?
The thin line between reality and not is one that requires a tightrope walker when it comes to filmmaking. Stanley Donen’s “Two For the Road” had elements of that, as he used cinematic techniques popularized by the French nouvelle vague, jump-cutting back and forth in time with seeming abandon, the older married couple driving past young hitchhikers who are themselves at an earlier time.
While Abbas Kiarostami doesn’t employ such visual trickery in “Certified Copy,” he does it verbally. The couple reveals much about marriage in their conversation. But does the fact they talking belie their marital status?
[from Solares Hill]

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