Wednesday, May 22, 2013

2013 Cannes Marathon: Certified Copy

(Winner of the Best Actress Prize to Juliette Binoche at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival)

Written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami, Certified Copy is the story about a British writer and a French antiques dealer who meet in Tuscany as they get to know each other while talking about the concept of authenticity. The film is an exploration into what is real as well as the concept of art as it is told by led by two people in the course of a day. Starring Juliette Binoche and William Shimmel. Certified Copy is a rapturous yet provocative film from Abbas Kiarostami.

The film is a very simple story about a writer (William Shimmel) who meets an antiques dealer (Juliette Binoche) where they spend the afternoon in Tuscany talking about the idea of authenticity in not just art but in humanity and such. During the duration of the afternoon, their discussions become more passionate to the point that it raises questions about everything including themselves as the woman is also the mother of a nine-year old. They would encounter various people along the way including young couples getting married as their discussion gets more heated about the idea of romance. It’s all part of a world in which Abbas Kiarostami questions the idea of authenticity in not just art but also humanity and the idea of romance.

While there isn’t much of a script that Kiarostami has created, it does raise a lot of questions into these ideas of what is real and what is forgery where he asks about these two people. Do they know each other or are they attracted to each other as both of them couldn’t deal with the reality about themselves? They are the many questions Kiarostami delves into while the writer has written a book about the idea that there might not be the idea of originality once it gets re-printed and forged. Even in the idea of humanity where the writer thinks that marriage is destined to fail though the antiques dealer disagrees thinking there could be hope.

Kiarostami’s direction is quite engaging in its simplicity as he doesn’t really do a lot of visual trickery with the exception of a shot of the two in a car while the front window is reflecting these gorgeous images of the buildings. Still, Kiarostami maintains something that is still engrossing about the conversations that are unfolding between two people and some of the people they encounter as he does create some beautiful compositions where he also puts something in the background to add a sense of interest. Even in the way he places the actors in a frame while having them in a certain location in Tuscany that adds something that is quite intoxicating to watch. The location itself is a character of the film where it plays to that sense of romance that is around the characters but it also plays into the idea that it could be a fantasy or a reality the characters don’t want to face. Overall, Kiarostami creates a very delightful and captivating film about authenticity in art and humanity.

Cinematographer Luca Bigazzi does excellent work with the film‘s very evocative cinematography to capture the beauty of the Tuscan fields and its small towns as well as some nice low-key lighting schemes for some of the film‘s interiors. Editor Bahman Kiarostami does wonderful work with the editing as it doesn‘t play into any particular style while keeping things low-key for some of its long takes while using a few rhythmic cuts to capture the drama. Production designers Giancarlo Basili and Ludovica Ferrario do nice work with the set pieces from some of the cafes the characters attend to the wedding halls they encounter. The sound work of Olivier Hespel and Dominique Vieillard is terrific for the sound work where it has this nice layer of being naturalistic but also with the mixing to combine these layers of effects that is happening in the locations including the music that’s played in the background.

The film’s cast largely consists of some small performances that includes Adrian Moore as the woman’s son, Gianna Giachetti as a cafĂ© owner the antiques dealer talks to, Filippo Troiano and Manuela Balsimelli as the marrying couple the characters meet, and Agathe Natanson and famed screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere as an old couple the main characters meet at the town square. William Shimmel is amazing as the writer as a man who tries to explain his thoughts of authenticity as well as humanity itself as it’s quite remarkable to watch him act with someone as revered as his co-star Juliette Binoche. Binoche’s performance is definitely full of radiance and energy as a woman who has a very keen opinion on art as well as life as she is also enchanted by what she sees while dealing with her own personal drama surrounding her son as well as the fact that his father isn’t around much as it’s Binoche at her most exquisite.

***Additional DVD Content Written on 6/1/13-6/5/13***

The 2-disc (1-disc Blu-Ray) Region 1 DVD from the Criterion Collection presents in its 1:85:1 theatrical aspect ratio in the widescreen format with 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound in English, French, and Italian with English subtitles all approved by its filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. The first disc of the DVD includes the film and its trailer. The second disc of the DVD includes various special features relating to the film and its creator.

The first big special feature is Kiarostami’s 1977 film The Report which bears similar themes to Certified Copy in its drama where it is presented in an old analog master made from a subtitled theatrical print which had been damaged due to heavy use while Kiarostami explained that the original negative was destroyed during the Islamic Revolution. It’s a very engaging film that explores a man dealing with his own issues in his life from being accused of bribery to a breakdown in his marriage as the film features an early appearance from Iranian actress Shoreh Aghdashloo.

The 16-minute interview with Abbas Kiarostami has the filmmaker talking about the film and why it took him a long time to make the film. He talked about a lot of things in the film that were based on personal experiences as well as the desire to work with Juliette Binoche as the two were fans of each other’s work and he invited her to Tehran and she made a cameo in his 2008 film Shirin. Kiarostami also talked about directing William Shimmel and trying to get him comfortable in playing the part while revealing some of the similarities between this film and his 1977 film The Report.

The 52-minute making-of documentary Let’s See “Copia conforme” is an Italian-produced documentary directed by Irene Bufo. The documentary explores not just Kiarostami’s process as a filmmaker but also how his approach to filmmaking was so different for the Italian crew he was working with. Notably as cinematographer Luca Bigazzi reveals a lot about Kiarostami’s approach where the differences between his approach and the usual process he’s done are huge since Kiarostami keep things going while trying to find the right notes in a performance. Juliette Binoche and William Shimmel also delve into Kiarostami’s approach with actors where Binoche reveals into why she was approached to do this film as he is a fan of her work and vice versa while Shimmel reveals the similarities of acting in front of a camera and on stage as an opera singer. It’s a very intriguing short documentary that reveals how Kiarostami stages thing and the relaxed approach he brings to the making of the film.

The DVD also comes with a booklet that features an essay entitled At Home and Abroad by New York-based film critic Godfrey Cheshire. Cheshire’s essay reveals the genesis of how Kiarostami came up with the story and the timing of when he made the film around the same time there was an uproar over the Iranian election. Cheshire also talks about the film’s plot in general and how it breaks conventions while remaining accessible as he points out Robert Rossellini’s Voyage to Italy and Kiarostami’s 1977 film The Report as examples of what Kiarostami was doing. Especially the latter as it would return Kiarostami to explore the world of relationships as he had been unable to do so in Iran as it’s a wonderful essay from Cheshire.

***End of DVD Tidbits***

Certified Copy is a tremendous film from Abbas Kiarostami that features brilliant performances from Juliette Binoche and William Shimmel. The film isn’t just one of the most intriguing films about art and life but also the idea about the ideas of authenticity. It’s also one of Kiarostami’s more accessible features where he can bring something different in a world outside of Iran but still be engaging over what he presents and the questions he wants to ask. In the end, Certified Copy is an incredible film from Abbas Kiarostami.

Abbas Kiarostami Films: (The Experience) - The Traveler - (A Wedding Suit) - The Report - (First Case, Second Case) - (Fellow Citizens) - (First Graders) - Where is the Friend’s House? - Homework (1989 film) - Close-Up - Life and Nothing More… - Through the Olive Trees - Taste of Cherry - (The Wind Will Carry Us) - (ABC Africa) - (Ten) - (Five) - (10 on Ten) - (Shirin) - Like Someone in Love - 24 Frames

© thevoid99 2013


Unknown said...

Another incredible film. A simple screenplay and premise, brought to life by a beguiling performance from Juliette, and a brilliant use of the natural scenery and architecture. I really need to watch more of Kiarostami's work.

thevoid99 said...

I have the DVD for this film as I'm going to watch The Report that he did in 1977 next week just after I take my break after this marathon.