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Wednesday, May 29

Copie conforme/Certified Copy

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder- this is the true essence of the film Copie conforme/Certified Copy (2010). We do not instantly fall in love with or come to appreciate a work of art for its originality, for being genuine, but for the emotions it triggers in our soul, so whether we look at an original painting or a certified copy, it makes no difference in terms of the beauty we feel within our hearts. A thing is beautiful not because of some intrinsic physical feature it possesses but because of the likes, preferences and sensitivity of the person looking at the object. It is the same with reality and fiction and, in his film, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami plays with the duality of life and and marvels at the way people joggle with their feelings and relationships.

Copie conforme/Certified Copy is a challenging and enticing movie that takes the viewer out of his comfort zone and makes him question some important issues such as the nature of life or of love itself. It is the story of a day-long conversation between James (William Shimell), an English author and an unnamed French woman (Juliette Binoche), owner of an antique shop in Tuscany, where James stops to give a lecture, as part of his book tour. James's book argues the idea of originality and its message is “Forget the Original, Just Get a Good Copy.” Being genuine is less important than the personal meaning of a work of art, whether it is original or a good copy; it is all about the feelings you experience by looking at it rather than the value of being the real thing or an accomplished copy.

Miller and the woman meet later at her shop but decide to get some fresh air and end up in the small town of Lucignano where they visit museums and discuss the importance of authenticity. Later on, they go to a cafe, and while the man goes outside to talk on the phone, the old woman who runs the cafe, thinking Miller is the woman's husband, gets into a conversation with Juliette Binoche's character about marriage and about him specifically, and the woman immediately plays along. From this point on, the relationship between the two takes the shape of a stale marriage, with accusations and reproaches, blaming and bitterness. The viewer becomes puzzled at the air of mystery wrapping the elaborate game the two are playing and it is neither plain nor obvious whether this is reality or fiction.

The movie is also exquisite in terms of the manner of being filmed, with the camera following the characters on the narrow streets, in cafes or churches, with different angles that fill the space between Miller and the woman, but also lingering on the faces of people they meet, faces that hide unspoken dramas. It is colourful and tricky, leading the viewer to make false assumptions about the main characters and the tourists they encounter in the town of Lucignano. It is also authentic in the way the characters talk directly to the camera: William Shimmel -an opera singer- cold, reserved, impeccable and Juliette Binoche -vibrant, complex, feminine. His choice of actors illustrates Abbas Kiarostami's intention to deepen the gap between the two characters and that between reality and fiction. Despite being ambiguous and emotional, Copie conforme/Certified Copy is an open invitation to self-analysis that only the bold dare to take; it is not a mainstream movie to everybody's liking but a gem on complex relationships that is to be revealed to the patient ones. Our relationships are themselves original copies not only of the ones we had before and of the way we were, but also of the new, undisclosed human beings we promise to be.

"The great majority of us are required to live a life of constant duplicity. Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike, and rejoice at what brings you nothing but misfortune".  Boris Pasternak
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