Sunday, January 11, 2015

Copie conforme (Certified Copy) (2010)

Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Writers:  Abbas Kiarostami, Caroline Eliacheff
Cast:       Juliette Binoche, William Shimell
Language: French, English, Italian

In Tuscany to promote his latest book, a middle-aged British writer meets a French woman who leads him to the village of Luicgnano. While there, a chance question reveals something deeper.

The film starts with a discussion on the new book from the writer titled- 'Certified Copy'. It is a book on art which questions the idea of originality taking the value attached to the original paintings for eg. As the writer explains later in the film, why should one disparage a copy work of 'Mona Lisa' since it also captures the emotion of the picture in an accurate way and in a sense Da Vinci's work is also not original since it is also a copy of the expression in her face. We are shown Binoche attending the press conference with her kid and leaving a calling card for the writer. When they eventually meet on a Sunday, it looks like she is trying to court him and the discussion they have is around the ideas from the book. From the start of the film, what we have towards Binoche is a sense of irritation and she continues in that vein throughout the film. A lady from a restaurant asks her questions thinking that they are a married couple and she tags along with the writer also seeming to join in. From there the film takes a weird turn as it looks like they do have quite a shared history and have been in a relationship for fifteen years. It seems that he is quite successful in his line of work and has become tired of her and their kid and lives a life of his own. She is resentful because of that and want to fix things by living together again whereas he is not at all sentimental and feels that where they are now at is just natural progression of things in a relationship when all the false hopes that people have at the time of marriage are vanquished. Bincohe is a sorry sentimental figure the whole way through but I suppose some of my own biases are coming through there.

If one supposes that they are indeed a couple, be it in a marriage or a mistress relationship, then the first 30-40 minutes of the film will look like a great convolution to misdirect us in to thinking that they were not. I am sure plenty of things from the beginning parts of film won't make much sense. So I guess the writer is just role-playing and the whole exercise is like a psychological counselling for her. Maybe they both play the same role they are playing here but with different people in their respective marriages and they are just demonstrating the discussion they had on the idea of perfect copies and the concept of originality. In the end it acts as a very surreal film without any usage of surreal imagery or time and space jumps. I really have to watch it again to determine whether it supports any of the two obvious interpretations.  It can do come across as a bit pretentious but I enjoyed watching it.

It was Kiarostami's second collaboration with Bincohe after 'Shirin'. Film marked the debut for William Shimell who is a well known opera singer. Film got an automatic ban in Iran since it depicts Western culture and la general lack of agreement with Binoche's attire. It won her best actress award at Cannes and she highlighted the plight of Jafar Pinahi during her acceptance speech.

Rating: 4.5/5