This dialogue driven French drama has been validly compared to My DINNER WITH ANDRE, and the BEFORE SUNRISE/BEFORE SUNSET films, but it’s at its most alluring when the characters stop talking and stare off into space.
You can really get lost in the moments where Juliette Binoche and William Shimell as a couple who has just met – she an antiques dealer; he a famous writer and – hesitate before their next spoken words, and try to decide which versions of themselves they want to pursue being next.
Taking place in Tuscany during one confusing yet compelling day, we follow Binoche and Shimell as they drive to the village of Lucignano, having elaborately intertwined conversations about existentialism filtered through the lenses of art. Shimell is touring promoting his book, also entitled “Certified Copy” (or its French title “Copie Conforme”), which deals with originals and copies of art being equal.
Binoche has some issues with Shimell’s theories, but when they are mistaken for a married couple by a café owner (Gianna Giachetti), she goes with it, and before you know it their repartee is even more layered as they are now conversing as man and wife.
Directed by acclaimed Iranian film maker Kiarostami, this film flows lucidly with many scenes featuring unbroken shots that keep us successfully inside the pair’s often conflicting yet magnetic mind-sets.
As 2 people who fall naturalistically into the odd patterns of fabricating a 15 year relationship convincingly complete with ongoing issues and damaged passion, Binoche and Shimell work wonders with this emotionally fragile material.
It’s often Binoche’s movie, as her close-ups dominate and her character’s thrust is the crux of this cinematic biscuit. Shimell is harder to put a finger on, as he appears at times to just be along for the ride, but we effectively feel his concerns when trying to keep up with the undefined whims of this weird yet intoxicating woman.
The ending came abruptly for me as I had happily settled into the immersive mood of the film, and wouldn’t have minded if it went up on a bit longer.
I can’t remember the last time that happened to me at the movies.