Director Abbas Kiarostami (Through the Olive Trees, The Wind Will Carry us), makes one of those rare trips out of his home country of Iran, to make this curious feature in Italy.
During a book tour for his latest work, English author James Miller (William Shimmell) finds himself in an idyllic part of Tuscany giving a reading. Itís there that heís approached by gallery owner Elle (Juliette Binoche), whoís a bit of a fan, having already purchased a number of copies of his book.
She excitedly agrees to take him on a road trip, giving him some welcome time to see the sights. On the way, they soon find themselves engrossed in some intellectual head-butting, with Elle taking issue with his theory regarding the value of original pieces of art versus copies.
Elle then decides to take him to a museum where an infamous copy of a well-known painting is on display. Sadly this does not have the desired effect on James; instead of seeing it as a relevant point to support his theory, he grows somewhat weary at being dragged to the museum.
Itís while the pair grab a coffee in a local shop that their relationship takes on a new dynamic. Are the couple the real deal or simply a good imitation?
Kiarostami has a refreshingly straightforward approach to filmmaking. In the past many of his films have felt like documentaries, with cameras following seemingly real characters around in their day to day lives. Although his latest work features the International star Binoche Ė as well as, somewhat curiously, baritone opera star Shimmell Ė he still manages to stay true to his roots.
With Kiarostamiís minimalist shooting style, the camera seems to catch authentic moments of reality, as if it were a roaming voyeur throughout this meeting.
The dialogue is also clutter free; the characters here donít spend much time with chit chat, resulting in them saying exactly whatís on their mind.
Thereís a stage however, where, rather uncharacteristically for Kiarostami, the story gets a little too clever for its own good. Clearly its aim is to confuse, which it does all too well, but even when you think youíve got a handle on whatís going on, thereís still a grey cloud of doubt hanging over your head.
It ties in perfectly with the whole theme of true art versus imitation, and yet itís rather sad to see the watchable vase of reality that Kiarostami creates thrown to the ground, shattered into tiny pieces.
Still, both Binoche and Shimmel give great understated performances, and itís their journey to an unknown truth that ultimately makes Certified Copy worthwhile.