Certified Copy (12A)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/09/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 106 mins

Certified Copy is intriguing in that it's simultaneously both extremely boring and utterly fascinating, though it's also significantly hampered by the disparity in acting ability between the two leads.

What's it all about?
Directed by Abbas Kiarostami, Certified Copy is set in Italy and stars Juliette Binoche as a French woman with a young son (Adrian Moore), who attends a reading by British author James Miller (opera singer William Shimell making his acting debut at Kiarostami's request) and leaves him a note afterwards. Later they meet in her antique shop and agree to spend the day roaming around Tuscany together, though Miller insists he has a train to catch at 9pm.

At a restaurant, the proprietress (Gianna Giachetti) mistakes the pair for a married couple and neither of them corrects her – instead, their conversation continues from that point as if they really were husband and wife. But are they? And if not, what's going on?

The Good
Part of the fun of Certified Copy lies in figuring out for yourself just what's going on. Are we watching a symbolic trajectory of a relationship where a single day is standing in for several years? Are they really married after all? Or are they just playing some sort of elaborate emotional game? Either way, it's surprisingly fascinating to watch and it's the sort of film that a) will pretty much guarantee post-film pub discussion and b) you'll find yourself thinking about for days afterwards.

There are definite echoes of other films here too, from Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise (a couple getting to know each other while walking round a foreign city) to Alain Resnais' Last Year In Marienbad (the ambiguous, undefined nature of the central couple). There's also a fairly central theme about whether a copy has as much artistic worth as an original (the subject of Miller's book), in case your post-film pub discussion needs extra fuel.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the film is rather hampered by a frequently dull and stilted script (their conversation is very boring in places, as perhaps befits a married couple who are tired of each other) and also by the yawning chasm that separates the two leads, in terms of acting ability. Binoche is great, as always, but Shimell is clearly out of his depth and some of his line readings are all over the place.

Worth seeing?
Certified Copy is an impressively directed, frequently fascinating film with a strong performance from Juliette Binoche. Worth seeing.

Film Trailer

Certified Copy (12A)
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Content updated: 22/10/2018 07:38

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