Certified Copy (Copie Conforme) Reviews
Certified Copy was a film that I found too difficult to review during my initial viewing, as its ideas were so complex and ambiguous that I actually needed a couple of months in contemplation, just to get a sort of grasp on what I just experienced. Though in saying all of that, I was entertained with what I saw, fuelled by the chemistry and performances by its two leading cast members and leaving with an open ending that would urge one to come back and go through their journey all over again.
The film overall is about perception. Is what we are seeing authentic or is it just a copy of something else, and does it even matter if the end result is still the same? Is their relationship seen as important and powerful, just because we are seeing it in a respected medium and handled by a respected director? The film asks daring and thought provoking questions, but it never gives away the answers. Abbas Kiarostami inserts ideologies and symbolism throughout the film, but they only act as a guide for the audience, and overall it still relies on the perception on the viewer. Many people can see the characters playing pretend, applying transference of their own personal history into the relationship, but possessing and conveying genuine emotions. Some may see the film as a complete Meta and Kiarostami simply pushing his ideas of the relationship between cinema or art and the perception of its audience; is this film about love any different from the others that follow the same journey as these two characters had. I was more in tuned with the latter, finding more the metaphorical meaning behind this simple yet also complex relationship; stirring our minds, especially in regards to the Coca Cola idea that was brought up early in the film.
The performances in this film were outstanding, developing that strong chemistry between its two leads, making the slow transition feel natural, especially in its emotions. The film only runs for an hour and 46 minutes, but it never felt draggy even with its lack of incidence; the film is comprised mainly of chatter back and forth between the two characters, some parts were natural and emotional while others were more concerned on the larger aspects of life and love, showing conflicts in perspectives between the two individuals. Sometimes when dialogue drags itself on for too long, I could get restless and distracted, but Kiarostami and co-writer Caroline Eliacheff have provided conversations that were so entertaining and intriguing to listen to; especially during their meal in the latter half of the film, where the tension is elevated but accompanying it with truth rather than melodrama.
I doubt any of what I said earlier made any sense, as you can see I am still trying to grasp and contain the film within my hands. Certified Copy is no doubt Abbas Kiarostami's most ambitious but also his most affecting work.
This review was written at 2:30 in the morning and I'm tired lul
Copie Conforme has an innovatory approach. We spend an entire day gathering clues about the characters' backgrounds, yet we are kept emotionally distant from them because Kiarostami's statement about the originality of art is transmitted through and reflected in human relationships. He is concerned with contemplating the present state of things while reflecting on a past which is kept intentionally unclear. In that way, we adopt James Miller's perspective, a man whose ideas about art, love and perception are as false as a copy. But wait! What is a copy? A copy is not a replica. A copy tries to be a replica. It sometimes succeeds, and it sometimes doesn't.
In that way, we are constantly original beings, because even though we had an "origin", such origin (cultural, geographical, psychological, even patriotic) is merely attached to personal subjectivity. We are renovated very infinitesimal fraction of time. So, is a person a copy of his past? Yes, and in that process, it is not original. Therefore, we are a living contradiction: we are original beings while being unoriginal copies of our past selves. We conclude that being original is also a matter of opinion and perspective, and therefore, originality does not exist (excuse my Aristotelian approach). The problem comes when we expect that the entire Universe should circle around our preconceived notions and agree with our statements.
My opinion is: God bless perception variety. Let's keep away as far as possible from an homogenous Aldous Huxley society. The true art of love, however, relies on killing a part of yourself, of your heart and soul, and giving it back to your couple so that he/she renews it, and both can become one. Otherwise, we will remain as arrogant reflections of our so-called "origins".
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 they are 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.