Nine months after debuting in Cannes, Abbas Kiarostami‘s Certified Copy (IFC Films, 3.11) is finally about to open stateside. It’s understood by most big-city critics and columnists that slamming a Kiarostami film will lead to slings and arrows, so they tend not to. I got beat up pretty badly when I posted my Cannes review, which was mostly negative. Here’s a portion of it:
“Certified Copy is a two-character endless dialogue movie set in and around San Gimignano, Italy — one of the worst places in the world, incidentally, because of the busloads of horribly-dressed Middle-American tourists who flood this city during spring and summer.
“The characters are James (William Shimell), a self-centered, snooty-fuck writer with carefully cut gray hair who has a little free time after discussing his new book before a small book-store group, and an attractive French-speaking woman (Juliette Binoche) with a 12 year-old, self-absorbed, pain-in-the-ass son who needs to be taken out behind the woodshed, have his pants and underwear pulled down and whipped with a leather strap.
“James and whatsername meet and decide they half-like each other, and about 30 or 35 minutes later decide to start pretending they’re husband and wife. The game gradually becomes darker and darker, and before you know it you’re not entirely convinced they weren’t playing a game to begin with. But the idea — one created by dweebs, aimed at dweebs and certain to be endlessly discussed by dweebs — has something to do with determining the natures of games vs. reality, originality vs. forgeries, truth vs. imagination and so on.
“I didn’t hate every minute of it. It is informed by a certain purity of mood and technique and mise en scene — always the mark of exceptional high-end filmmaking. I was half-engaged at first, but common sense disengaged me within 45 or 50 minutes. And yet I stuck it out to the end. I stood, I sat, I leaned against a wooden panel. And people were booing as the end credits appeared.”