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Review: 'Certified Copy' is a frustrating, fascinating emotional fakeout

EntertainmentMoviesFilm FestivalsCannes Film FestivalJuliette BinocheAbbas KiarostamiCertified Copy (movie)

*** (out of four)

For a while, English author James Miller (William Shimell) and a French fan (Juliette Binoche) stroll around Tuscany, “Before Sunrise”-style, constantly addressing the difference between an original piece of art and a copy. Then, all of a sudden, the two interact as if they’ve been married 15 years. Which part is the elaborate role playing?

The buzz: Many have regarded “Certified Copy,” which netted Binoche a Best Actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival, as a masterpiece. That’s surely appreciated by director Abbas Kiarostami, who’s never before made a film outside Iran.

The verdict: Two big reasons why “Certified Copy” isn’t a masterpiece: The interminably single-minded opening 40 minutes, in which the words “original” and “copy” are said so many times you could make a drinking game out of it, but would need 25 people to handle all the shots. Plus, people are not pieces of art—we change over time, art doesn’t—so to analyze the value of both as possibly a matter of perception is comparing apples and oranges. The movie instead lingers as an intellectual exercise. Can you tell the difference between a couple who really has a history and one that’s faking it? Can a replica ever really replace an original? Good questions for love and art, and people who don’t mind a movie that feels like an essay.

Did you know? James says the original title for his book “Certified Copy” was, “Forget the original; just get a good copy.” And so we return to our Backstreet Boys vs. N’Sync discussion yet again.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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