DVD review: 'Certified Copy' looks at a mysterious relationship

My top-10 films from last year are slowly making their way to home video, the latest being this mysterious relationship drama from Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami (“Taste of Cherry,” “Crimson Gold”) — certainly his most accessible film for Westerners. First of all, it's primarily in English, with a few English-subtitled scenes in French and Italian. Secondly, it is much closer in tone and technique to European cinema than to the Iranian films that make it to the U.S.

Juliette Binoche plays a nameless character who seeks a meeting with author James Miller (William Shimmel, an opera singer making his film debut), who is visiting Tuscany for a reading. She is French, a single mother, raising her adolescent son in Italy; Miller is a Brit. As they stroll through a small town, their flirting and apparent intimacy makes bystanders assume they are married, a masquerade they then take up. Or, we begin to wonder, is it a masquerade?

The Criterion edition looks pristine. The extras include a 16-minute interview with Kiarostami, conducted in Iranian this year and subtitled in English; and a 50-minute “making of” that includes interviews with the director and his stars, as well as the cinematographer, producer, and other principals. Kiarostami mentions some similarities between “Certified Copy” and his 1979 feature, “The Report,” which only exists in one battered, scratchy print. Criterion has nonetheless included this nearly two-hour feature as a bonus (and he wasn't kidding about the condition of it). It has some thematic elements in common with “Certified Copy,” though the technical level and style seem crude in comparison.
"Certified Copy" (Criterion, Blu-ray, $39.95; DVD $29.95)

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