REVIEW: Certified Copy

12 01 2015

Abbas Kiarostami’s “Certified Copy” feels like a 2-for-1 movie deal, which is not necessarily a good thing.  The film makes you think it’s one thing, then turns on a dime to transform into something else entirely.  Such an abrupt, jarring transition makes for an inconsistent, disjointed watch.

“Certified Copy” begins intriguingly, almost resembling the “Before” trilogy by Richard Linklater.  Kiarostami captures personal conversations between writer James Miller (William Shimell) and a mysterious French antiques dealer (Juliette Binoche) that quickly expand into the realm of the philosophical.  They cover such topics as the nature of fun and the dialectic of art and reality.  Not much pushes the film forward in this section, and it’s unclear what exactly brings the two characters together in the first place.

But out of nowhere, the plot moves in a direction where a case of mistaken identity turns into an unusual game of assuming and playing roles.  I really don’t know how to describe these almost non-sensical scenes where the dialogue feels like a series of non sequiturs.  If anything, the back half of “Certified Copy” resembles the surreality of “Mulholland Drive” or the absurdity of an Edward Albee drama.

Binoche gives it her all, and for that, she certainly deserves commendation.  But not even a committed performance can save “Certified Copy” from swamping itself and its audience confusion.  C+2stars

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