Certified Copy (Copie Conforme) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Certified Copy (Copie Conforme) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ June 2, 2012
An intriguing drama that starts off with a realistic approach but then suddenly shifts into a more surrealistic tone after halfway through the story, becoming so emotionally involving and raising a fascinating discussion about our perception of the value of Art - original or not.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
½ September 8, 2012
I'm embarrassed to admit it, but "Certified Copy" is the first Abbas Kiarostami film I've seen. During the 1990s, when Kiarostami's reputation was growing, I was not that focused on international high-art cinema. I didn't start paying careful attention to the Cannes Film Festival, for example, until about 10 years ago. Cannes played a central role in expanding Kiarostami's audience beyond Iran, where he lives and works. His film "Taste of Cherry" won top prize at Cannes in 1997.

"Certified Copy" has a number of intriguing elements, but I don't think too many would consider it a major work of art. It was accepted into competition at Cannes in 2010, but it lost (thank goodness) to the near-masterpiece "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives."

Juliette Binoche did win Best Actress that year for her work in the film. But I think the Cannes Jury, led by Tim Burton incidentally, was overly generous to her. She's a great actress, but her work in "Certified Copy" was not particularly significant in my view.

Binoche plays a French art dealer living in Italy. Her specialty is copies of major works of art, particularly statuary. An English art scholar is visiting her small town in Tuscany on a book tour to promote the Italian translation of his new work "Certified Copy," which critically examines the concept of originality.

She volunteers to take him on a driving tour of the area, and the film chronicles their day trip. It is actually filmed in Italy, Kiarostami's first time filming outside Iran I'm told.

In a highly unusual bit of casting, the art scholar is played not by a professional actor, but by a famous opera singer, William Shimmel. From what I've read, Kiarostami is quite the polymath, having expertise not just in cinema, but also in painting, photography, poetry, and even graphic design. He's a true Renaissance man. His casting of an opera singer embodies that broad interest in the arts, I would say. He seems to see cinema not as standing alone, but as part of a tapestry of modern arts.

The film itself also has that polymath quality. Everywhere you go in "Certified Copy" there's some kind of art, especially painting and sculpture. But even clothes, jewelry and wine are approached artistically. Philosophy is also everywhere.

In the first 20 minutes, it seems that the film is going to be a fairly straightforward talk-fest about art and philosophy. But then something quite bizarre happens. The protagonists slowly become different characters. This happens so subtly and gradually, that you don't entirely know when they change. Suddenly I realized they were not strangers, but a married couple celebrating their 15th anniversary.

I was so disconcerted and intrigued that I had to go back and watch for the first signs of this change. This was fun, and I liked the mind-bending quality. The problem is that I didn't think this avant-garde technique really meant that much ultimately. It certainly is unusual, but what does it say? It conveys the fluidity of identity and the illusion of the self, but this has been done many times before -- far more trenchantly in "Uncle Boonmee" in fact.

It also brings into sharper focus the nature of cinema as a copy of life. There's also a refracting quality, exploring how even in "real life" we often feel like we're imitating something or someone -- sometimes imitating cinema! But this has also been done before and in far more exciting ways. (Jean-Luc Godard, anyone? Ingmar Bergman's "Persona"?)

There's a flat look to "Certified Copy" most often, which is rather uninspiring. The cinematography I have to say is quite pedestrian most of the time. Very often the film looks as plain as a TV movie. It takes a lot of work to make Tuscany look plain, but somehow Kiarostami succeeds!

So it's a mixed bag with "Certified Copy." Some interesting ideas are explored, but not in a way that's very inspiring or even original. Pardon the pun.
Super Reviewer
½ June 1, 2012
'Certified Copy'. An absolute gem on originality, value, and the perceptions that change one or the other.

Two brilliant central performances and existential, intellectual questions aplenty! The film works on a very meta level, and by the end of it, I can't believe their relationship, or *what* their relationship was, was even up for debate.

Clearly my perceptions changed well enough based on what looked like a certified, failed marriage to me, but who knows what someone else might have seen?
Tired of Previews
Super Reviewer
½ January 5, 2012
Directed (and written) by Abbas Kiarostami, MK2 Productions, 2010.

Starring: Juliette Binoche and William Shimell.

Genre: Drama

Question: Do you ever find it hard not to relate to or be affected by a film? I do, all the time.

Some make me laugh and I will randomly giggle when thinking about certain moments of the story. Some make me cry and I will shed a tear if I allow any memories in. And then some freak me out that I will have to sleep with the light on if recall any of the scary parts. Then there are the ones where you watch a couple of actors converse in what first appears nonsensical or of little importance, but a switch is flipped in your consciousness, and you soon realize that everything they are saying has a profound point. That is Certified Copy. Once the switch flipped for me, my heart just sank. This one ended up tossing me about that I know this one will be with me for the long haul.

I was in the mood to watch a movie but a really good one. Fortunately, Netflix has categories based on what you have watched and then list others they feel you may enjoy. Under the "Critically-acclaimed" list I found Certified Copy. Actually I already had it in my instant play queue when I went looking a few days ago in the "New Arrivals" list, but my queue is REALLY long, and sometimes I find it difficult to decide what to watch and review next. However, Netflix had One Flew of the Cuckoo's Nest, Young Frankenstein, Reservoir Dogs and Apocalypse Now, 4 of my all time favorite movies, on the "Critically-acclaimed" list so I immediately hit play without knowing anything about it.

Well, that's not entirely true. I knew Juliette Binoche starred in it and that it was a story about love and art. Plus it was set in Tuscany. I adore Italy, worship art and I wish I could be as alluring as Juliette Binoche. So I was content when I started the film, but I didn't stay that way long.

The opening of Certified Copy started off with no music, views of people or even a panoramic shot of Italy. The camera focused on a large stone mantel with a table and a couple of microphones on it. Then all you hear are people talking slightly above a whisper. It was a little disconcerting as this went on for a few minutes. I was waiting for something - a person to pop into screen, the camera to move or a change of scenery. But nothing for a few more minutes. Finally, a person came into view speaking Italian (there were sub-titles) to announce that the writer is running late for the lecture. I relaxed again as the story moved forward.

The writer finally arrived - a handsome middle-aged British man - and he begins to speak about his book, "Certified Copy", which is about reproductions of original pieces of art and his theory that all copies are just as authentic as the the original objects. He also claims the originals are also reproductions themselves. Soon a beautiful middle-aged woman walks into the lecture hall. She seems intrigued with the writer. No more detail - that is enough for now.

The discussion of his theory is transported forward for nearly 30 more minutes when the two people meet up. At this point I was uncertain where the story was heading but it kept my interest. However, there was some strange or odd behavior by both parties that I couldn't quite figure out. The story went in and out of a foreign language: Italian or French - all with sub-titles but half of the movie was in English. For those who don't like subtitles this one wasn't bad - although I had to rewind a few moments to make sure I knew what they said. However, it wasn't so much for my slow reading ability but something I believe the film-maker was trying to "trick" us with. (So pay close attention.) Immediately trompe l'oeil or "trick of the eye" popped in my head when I finally realized what was going on in Certified Copy. Brilliant!

Now you know I am not going to tell you any more about the story, but I will say Juliette Binoche was mesmerizing as her role of the middle-aged woman trying to converse with this "stranger". There were moments of pure tenderness and then there were times of utter sorrow that only a select few people, I believe, could relate to in this story. Are you one of them? You will just have to find out.

Certified Copy is an original story and one that I believe not many will enjoy. You must have patience and an understanding that this tale doesn't take a typical path. Plus, as in real-life, there aren't answers to everything and there aren't always cathartic moments that allow you to let go of the story once it is over. Many use films to escape the drudgery of their world, but some films draw you right back into the things you fear or sadden you the most. So if you are looking for an uplifting, overly romantic love story - I suggest you watch something else. However, if you want to be surprised, witness a real relationship between two people and decide for yourself how it ended - then Certified Copy is your movie.

My favorite thing: When I realized what I was really watching.

My least favorite thing: Not gonna say.

Rating: UR
Length: 106 minutes

Review: 9 out of 10
Super Reviewer
½ January 17, 2012
A delightful romantic-comedy concerning an accomplished author (William Shimell) and his afternoon with a woman (Juliette Binoche) who attends a lecture of his latest book, and the relationship they start (or perhaps continue) as a result of a sparkling discussion concerning art, philosophy, love, and land. What sounds like a boring, pretentious film is actually surprisingly light in tone, but not so much to sacrifice the intense, emotional performances of both Shimell and Binoche. Think "Before Sunrise"/"Before Sunset" only with a little more hurt involved, but still nonetheless engrossing and never dull. There are some brilliant scenes and moments of character interaction (one being the two leads literally talking in different languages - heightening the "confusion" each share concerning one another), and an ending that ends on a saddening, yet appropriate note. Not for all tastes, but this film is so effortlessly acted and directed, it is hard not to get sucked into this private, intimate ongoing conversation that tackles a lot in a 100 minute running time.
Super Reviewer
December 20, 2011
An antiques shop dealer contacts the writer of "Certified Copy," a book that proclaims that copies are as important as originals, to argue about his theory; as their day together progresses their relationship shifts until they end up playing different roles entirely. Gets points for ambition, dialogue and acting, but it ends up playing like a psychological thriller with all the thrills taken out.
Super Reviewer
June 30, 2010
Asymmetrical transition made pleasantly palatable by Binoche's panache.
Super Reviewer
½ April 2, 2011
Wickedly high-concept, much more than its incredible quiet would suggest, Certified Copy is a bold cinematic exploration. It's a relationship drama that grows quietly trippy; it's a shifting palette of colors, feelings, and intellectual clash; it is unfamiliar yet heartbreaking, restrained and explosive, and is completely comfortable with all of the multifaceted ground it explores. Abbas Kiarostami's preoccupations with identity are explored to considerable academic effect here - the way the characters grapple with the concept of the "copy" starts as a highly cerebral clash. One argues the value of originality, while the other stresses that a copy has every bit the same merit as its source work. As their relationship begins to take on a strange, inexplicable form, it becomes clear that everything can be reconstructed and "copied," like a relationship, or a life. The stakes are removed totally from merely objective criticism and dissection of imitation within art, and with incredible dexterity, Juliette Binoche and William Shimell act out a facsimile of a complex relationship to an extent where even they start to believe in what they're saying. Is there an "original" to which their hypothetical scenario references, or is this film just the folie a deux of a pair of educated loners? It is a full-bodied, intriguing, emotional mystery, one worth exploring for every second.
Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2011
Observant, graceful meander through the age old battle of the sexes and the mismatched perceptions and needs of a couple. Binoche is mesmerising as always.
Super Reviewer
½ June 28, 2013
"Cerified Copy" is quite simply a walk and talk movie.(Since this is also an Abbas Kiarostami movie, there is also a car involved. Which is about the only innovation he brings to the table here.) And there's nothing wrong with that but this only works if you have something to say. Well, James Miller(William Shimell) thinks he might, considering he has just written a book about copies. He tries to express his ideas to an unnamed French woman(Juliette Binoche) who is an antique dealer living in Italy with her teenaged son(Adrian Moore). As mismatched as their chemistry is, they give a go at pretending to be a copy of other marriages, after a waitress makes the stereotypical presumption about their being married. But still, little is known about the man and woman's true relationship, giving the story such as it is little firm ground to stand on, in this movie which is nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is and also a meager copy of far superior movies.
Super Reviewer
January 12, 2012
I just watched Certified Copy and I was blown away, completely captivated. The dialog reminded me of some of the best dialog driven films, like Before Sunrise. Lots of walking and talking, and not a lot of action, but still managed to convey a good deal of emotion. Juliette was marvelous. The script was a bit odd, designed to keep the viewer from guessing the relationship right away, but by the end, there was no doubt. I loved the scenery and the activity in the small town where the meat of the story takes place, and the various people they interact with and see as they walk about the town. Marvelous.
Super Reviewer
December 30, 2011
Directed by "controversial" Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, "Certified Copy" is a film about what is real and what is fake.
Juliette Binoche plays a woman only known as "she" (as revealed by the credits) who is moderately infatuated with a man named James Miller who has written a book titled "Certified Copy" which examines the importance of copies and forged artworks and how the fake artworks can bring viewers of art closer to the originals (even though it isn't real)... thus begins our film.
The unnamed main character (she), invites the author to see her personal antique collection, and from that point they spend the entire day together. Their day begins simply by talking about art as they drive through the streets of Italy, but when they stop at a coffee shop and the elderly lady serving the coffee mistakes them for being a married couple Juliette Binoche's character decides to play along. For the rest of the day, she and James spend the whole day pretending to be a married couple traveling through Italy for their 15th wedding anniversary.
The script of "Certified Copy" is not perfect, but it is the small coincidences and random background noises or images that really help the theme of this film breathe. Wedding bells are heard from chapels constantly, and newly weds still in suits and white dresses are seen in several scenes parading the streets and having their pictures taken. (Having the main character unnamed also implies a sense of submission to one' husband as found in wedding vows and the culture that the director is from.)
Where this film could have fallen apart, is just when the story picks up. At times, their pretending and references to events that both of them know never happened (example: their wedding day) cross a line of unbelievability as we, as an audience, have to cross the hurtle that both characters are choosing to pretend their married without ever acknowledging that they are pretending.
That's where the theme of the film shines at its a best. It does't matter that they weren't really married, as it helped them see their own flaws and gain a greater understanding of love and marriage (just as a forged painting can give a viewer the same knowledge as the real painting).
This movie isn't for everyone, but it is a beautiful look at the occasionally ugly side of love and the things that love can make people do for others.
Robert B.
Super Reviewer
September 28, 2015
Certified Copy is cynical and postmodern and may be true to the reality of some. The style of the performance is a kind of anguished improv (which is certainly different). But the product is not very true to the trailer, and those wanting to watch a positive and romantic film may find Certified Copy disappointing. I would have classed it as a drama, and may have enjoyed it more if I had different expectations, but did not dislike it.
Super Reviewer
June 12, 2010
Fascinating, intriguing and one-of-a-kind drama about the value of art, art imitating life, how everything and nothing can be 'original', set within what at first appears a charming if derivative romance. Juliette Binoche is superb in a complex and satisfying role, and William Shimell almost matches her brilliance. "Certified Copy" is like an especially philosophical, theoretical version of "Before Sunset" (and don't think I don't realise the irony in that statement). It's ideas and explorations are deceptively dense, even if the film itself is surprisingly accessible, with repeat viewings likely to reward. Striking, intelligent cinema.
Super Reviewer
½ May 3, 2012
The few critics of Abbas Kiarostami have always suggested that his films are always made for an art house European audience and not for an audience more akin to his usual subject; Iranian society. This is his first film made outside Iran and it is wine drinking, beret wearing European film critics wet dream. Chopping and changing between three languages, endless discussion of art and a totally open ended narrative. Past this apparent surface though is Kiarostami still has his incredible vision of cinema at work. It doesn't have the raw human emotions of his previous work, but using European polish he does create a charming romantic notion that plays on the mind as well as the heart.
Super Reviewer
½ December 31, 2011
While it deals with what appears to be shifting realities and personalities, director Abbas Kiarostami doesn't use literal shifts to suggests this. Rather, the two central characters have either planned an elaborate fantasy game from even before the start of the film, or they improvise their supposed relationship on a whim and gradually start to accept this little game as truth (or at least as a possible truth). Kiarostami calls into question the very nature of relationships and how we view them, both up close in our own lives and other people at a distance. What really makes this film work are the two central performances of Juliette Binoche and William Shimell. Outside of quickly changing between three languages in almost every scene, they also manage to create characters that are utterly believable and yet we constantly question the truth of their statements. Its a beautiful film, and one that I will probably still be thinking about for a long time.
Super Reviewer
½ April 7, 2011
A couple (or are they) hang out in Tuscany for a day and squabble, endlessly .... about art, relationships, each other, child-rearing, which of them is right.... I don't know which of them bored me more by the end.
Super Reviewer
October 6, 2010
I actually dozed for parts of it, and yet was still totally blown away by it.
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