AFI FEST: Review: Certified Copy - Hollywood (November 7, 2010)
Juliette Binoche

Certified Copy is Abbas Kiarostami's first full-length feature made outside of Iran. It was shot in Tuscany, Italy at a budget of approximately 7,000,000 Euros and financed, produced by French production companies. It features acclaimed French actress Juliette Binoche and British Opera actor William Shimmel. Binoche had previously collaborated with Kirarostami and made a brief appearance in Shirin (2008). The film is in English, French and Italian. Kiarostami had previously made innovative art films. This is an elegant romantic comedy and probably his most accessible work to date.

For the first time, Kiarostami has written a detailed script for a feature film. It's based on personal experience he had with a woman many years ago. He has put so much of himself in the male lead character. James Miller played by William Shimell is sophisticated, intellectual and calm. At one scene, the British Art author makes a reference to Persian Poetry. The two actors who have lots of chemistry engage in a dialogue which is extremely interesting and witty. They argue about reality and fakery (genuine vs. forgery) and the fact that sometimes a copy maybe better than the original. Undeniably, Certified Copy is reminiscent of Rossellini's masterpiece Voyage to Italy (1954). By making this film in Rossellini's camera style, Kiarostami pays homage to one of his favorite directors. It's not a remake or rip-off of Rossellini's work but a strong tribute.

French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière who is a close friend of Kirarostami plays a short part in this film. His son Bahman Kiarostami is the editor of the film. It's obvious that he offered the part to Binoche because they have had long-standing trust and respect for each other. Consequently, we can infer that this director prefers the company of his own friends and family at work.

The film is similar to his previous work and beautifully shot and very detailed-oriented. Kiarostami is a great master of bewilderment and tries to confuse us. The status of the relationship between Binoche and Shmimmel is left ambiguous for the audience. Are they really a couple? Also, at times, it's hard to follow as the language of the dialogue changes so much. All of this is intentional and in signature Kiarostami fashion. One has to watch the movie several times to get it right.

There is only emotional closeness any no sex scenes in the film. Yet, Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance deemed the film unsuitable for general release in Iran. The spokesperson said that Binoche's dress was inappropriate and revealed too much cleavage. But, the film may be allowed to be screened for academic purposes at special screenings .

This was probably the best film screened at the AFI Fest. It worked without resorting to profanity, sex or violence. Everyone was absolutely mesmerized by it.

Juliette Binoche & William Shimell starring in Certified Copy 2010 France, Iran, Italy | 106 mins | World Cinema

Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Executive Producers: Gaetano Daniele
Producers: Marin Karmitz, Nathanaël Karmitz, Charles Gillibert, Angelo Barbagallo
Screenwriter: Abbas Kiarostami
Cinematographer: Luca Bigazzi
Editor: Bahman Kiarostami
Music: Giancarlo Basili, Ludovica Ferrario
Production Design: Giancarlo Basili, Ludovica Ferrario
Cast: Juliette Binoche, William Shimell, Jean-Claude Carriere, Agathe Natanson
Production Companies: MK2 Productions, BiBi Film, Abbas Kiarostami Productions and in association with France 3, Canal+, Centre National,
de la Cinématographie (CNC), Toscana Film Commission
Format: 35mm

Awards & Honors: Festival de Cannes: Award for Best Actress, 2010
Golden Spike award at the Valladolid International Film Festival

Watch the Trailer

Jaffar Panahi's short The Accordion was screened earlier at the AFI Fest.

Related Links
Certified Copy (IMDB)
Abbas Kiarostami (IMDB)

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