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  • Apr 20, 2014
  • Updated: 2:01pm

Live imitation of art

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 June, 2011, 12:00am

Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's first feature-length film, Certified Copy, is not so much an ode to marriage, but a tantalising glimpse of how something that acknowledges its falsehood from the get-go can become more real than the original could ever hope to be.

The film begins with a lecture in Tuscany by British author James Miller (William Shimell) on the issues of authenticity surrounding copies of art. Juliette Binoche's character, an unnamed antiques dealer who quickly develops a crush on Miller, makes an early exit from the lecture, but arranges to meet him afterwards.

They embark on a short trip to the town of Lucignano where, after being mistaken as a couple by the owner of a cafe, they gradually assume their assigned roles with dramatic conviction. As the film progresses, the extent to which they act out the elaborate history of their imagined marriage intensifies. It reaches a point where the audience is confused as to whether they are really play acting at all, reflecting the issues of authenticity discussed in Miller's lecture.

Kiarostami's direction is minimalist, with lingering shots that allow you to focus on every nuance in speech and twitch of the eye by the characters.

Towards the end of the film, all attempts to dissect and make sense of the relationship between the couple prove futile, and the audience is encouraged to simply enjoy each scene as it unfolds in the setting Tuscan sun.

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