Abba Kiarostami is a legendary Iranian director , and Certified Copy is his first movie shot outside Iran and produced in the English language. The plot is simple: A French émigré (Juliette Binoche), who manages an antique store in Italy, meets an English cultural historian, James Miller (William Shimell), who is visiting her town. They start a conversation.
Certified Copy is done in Kiarostami’s old tradition of narrative filmmaking where two people casually discuss their lives. The movie has an easy conversational rhythm. However, Kiarostami is playing with us again, both by utilizing numerous off-camera actions and by his puzzling and unsettling degree of ambiguity. While the plot unfolds, the viewer is left to guess if the couple really just met or if they have been husband and wife for a long time already. Kriarostami is perhaps making a point that love is a result of misunderstanding and that we attribute all goodness to a person when we fall in love, but when we arrive at unsatisfying truths, the love ends. Therefore love is nothing but illusion.
The eternal inspiration of cinema is human life and this movie also echoes the universal theme of woman-man relationships. And each life is unique. Kiarostami compares human life to art: every art reproduction is in some way an original and every original is a reproduction. Even the original Mona Lisa was a copy of whoever was posing for that painting, Kiarostami claims. Ultimately this movie is a comedy with layers of depth. As with other Kiarostami movies, this movie challenges us to think…. And it is good for us!
This is a first movie role for British opera singer William Shimell, as Kiarostami likes to work with non-actors. The dialogue is in French, English and Italian.