Certified Copy (2010)

The story of a writer and a book seller who discover each other's thoughts, ideas, perceptions and fears due to an innocuous accident.

6/28/20233 min read

Juliette Binoche and William Shimell in 'Certified Copy'
Juliette Binoche and William Shimell in 'Certified Copy'

English, French and Italian

106 minutes, 2010

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Cast: Juliette Binoche, William Shimell, Gianna Giachetti

Awards: Best Actress award for Julitte Binoche at Cannes Film festival,2010;

Certified Copy, directed by Abbas Kiarostami, is a thought-provoking and enigmatic film that captivates audiences with its mesmerizing performances and profound exploration of human relationships.

The film starts with a sequence where English writer James Miller’s (William Shimell) is invited in Tuscany, Italy to talk about his newly launched book titled ‘Certified Copy’, which essentially talks about originals and copies in art world. The event is attended by a book and antique seller (Juliette Binoche) who is unable to sit through the entire event as her pestering son is hungry. She however passes her number to his agent and leaves.

Next day the writer ends up at her shop and they discuss same topic of original and copy. In between her son calls and she talks about the reason of her son’s calls with the writer who sympathises with him. This irritates her. On his insistence they drive and The lady takes him to the village of Lucignano which has a beautiful character of its own. They visit a museum where a copy of a painting is preserved because it is very good copy of the original . they discuss and obviously there are differences between their ideas and thoughts. Later they visit a coffee shop where the old shopkeeper lady (Gianna Giachetti) mistakes them as couple, when the writer is walking outside, taking a call. This kick-start a very interesting phase in the movie which continues till the end.

The lady (Juliette) doesn’t correct her and plays along having a very serious conversation about husband’s and wife’s needs. When the writer returns she tells him about it and he too indulges along. They go out of the café and still keep discussing as if they were wife and husband. Here in lies the brilliance of script (written by Abbas Kiarostami and Caroline Eliacheff) which smoothly glides between their own sorrows, insecurities and perceptions which both are playing along with sincerity, in the process, quarrelling and arguing like a married couple and the lady slowly revealing the past to the gentleman.

The performances in Certified Copy are remarkable, with Juliette Binoche delivering a captivating portrayal of a complex and emotionally charged woman. Binoche effortlessly navigates the shifting dynamics of her character, gracefully moving between vulnerability and strength. William Shimell, a renowned opera singer making his acting debut on film, impresses with his natural and understated performance, adding layers of intrigue to the story.

Shot along the picturesque landscapes of Tuscany, beautifully contrasting with the emotional turmoil brewing within the characters, the film challenges the audience's perception of reality and the authenticity of human connections. Kiarostami's masterful direction, coupled with outstanding performances by Juliette Binoche and William Shimell, makes for a thought-provoking cinematic experience.

About the director, Abbas Kiarostami

This prolific Iranian director was born at Tehran in June 1940. He had been involved in various roles like director, producer and screenwriter in over 40 films in his lifetime including shorts and documentaries. His first love was, however, painting, which he continued till he joined School of fine Arts at the University of Teheran.

Armed with the degree in fine arts, Kiarostami worked in advertising industry creating graphic designs, posters and commercials. He made over 150 commercials for Iranian TV in sixties. Later he started creating credit titles for the Iranian films.

In 1970, he helped set up an Institute for Intellectual development of Children and Young Adults in Tehran. There he made his first short film, 12 minutes in duration, titled ‘The Bread and Alley’, which was about a schoolboy’s tryst with a dog. Thereafter, he continued making shorts for the institute till 1977.

In 1977, he made his first feature film ‘The Report’, which depicted life of a tax collector accused of taking bribes. After his first feature too, he kept on making shorts and films bordering on short and feature length. His claim to fame, however, came in 1987 with film, ‘Where is my friend’s home’ which gave him international recognition. The touching film is about a schoolboy who accidently takes his friend’s notebook who has been scolded earlier and threatened with expulsion. He attempts to return the notebook but loses way to friend’s home and has to return his home back. He then completes both, his own and his friend’s homework to save him. Incidentally, this was the first Iranian film watched by this reviewer back in 1988. The film garnered a lot of awards at various film festivals.

Later, he did lot of experiments in scriptwriting and filmmaking. For instance, his film ’Ten’ (2002) shows ten scenes with a female taxi driver and various passengers, as she drives around Tehran. His another film ’Five’ (2003), is a documentary with five 16 minute long takes.

Present film, ‘Certified Copy’ is his first film made outside Iran. Abbas Kiarostami died on 4th July, 2016 in a Paris hospital.