By William Wolf

NEW YORK FILM FESTVAL 2010--'CERTIFIED COPY'  Send This Review to a Friend

The big question that haunts “Certified Copy,” a story of a seemingly spontaneous and unexpected encounter between a man and woman is: Are they really just getting acquainted or have already been a couple? In the film by Iranian writer-director Abbas Kiarostami, shown as part of the 2010 New York Film Festival, the setting is a village in Tuscany, where Juliette Binoche as an antiques dealer identified only as She in the credits and her young son are at a speaking event of James Miller (William Shimell), a British author of a book called “Certified Copy.” It doesn’t take long for Binoche and Miller to be off and running in a testy helping of back and forth patter.

Little by little, they begin behaving as a quarrelsome twosome. There is obviously an attraction and sexual tension, yet there is a mutual picking apart of each other’s views and behavior. Binoche is very beautiful, of course, and Shimell, making his screen debut, is known as a renowned opera singer. They do make an intriguing pair.

Small town life swirls about them as they walk the streets and stop in a restaurant. A young man and woman are to be married and the visitors are seen in relation to the romance. All the while the protagonists seem to be certified copies of a real married couple, as if all of the situations that have plagued them are surfacing, while the attraction they have for each other is pulling them together.

The idea seems rather pretentious—the subject of Miller’s book is that copies of art can also have importance on their own—but the acting combination goes a long way toward drawing us into the orbit of the characters, enabling us to enjoy the bickering, whether they are newcomers or an established or former couple working out hostilities in elaborate psychological gamesmanship. Whatever the truth, the result is amusing under Kiarostami’s teasing direction. An IFC Films release.


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