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Certified Copy (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 106 minutes

OK for children.

This starts out like My Dinner With Andre (1981), morphs into Whoís Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966), and ends up more like the quintessential French Art film, the inscrutable Last Year at Marienbad (1961). Itís a convoluted film about one day in the life of two people, Juliette Binoche and William Shimell (who, in real life, is one of Britainís most accomplished baritones), who meet in Tuscany, where heís giving a lecture on a book he wrote that didnít sell in his native England but has been successful in Italy. She is an attendee who wants him to sign several of the books she bought.

Telling what happens would do a disservice to the viewer because one must live this film as it progresses. If you know what itís about when you go into it, it will lose much of its effectiveness. I found myself thinking about it long after it was over.

The main problem with the film is the final twenty minutes that seems more like a day. It just slows down so much that I was looking at my watch more than the screen, wishing that it to end. There are important things that happen during those 20 minutes, but they could have been handled with much better pace by director Abbas Kiarostami, who was born in Iran in 1940.

One thing that bothered me (other than the title) was the bra Binoche wears throughout the film. Itís ugly and sheís dressed trashily. Her bra is always showing. It doesnít go with the sun dress sheís wearing and there is no continuity in the way the bra and the dress show in scene after scene. They are constantly different, even when going from one reverse to another and back again. When she finally takes it off near the end of the film, she looks much better (no jokes, please). But why she would dress like that is undoubtedly a part of the inscrutability of the film. The cinematography is also part of the mystery, many scenes showing mirrored reflections in the background.

Binoche is an accomplished actress and carries off the role with aplomb. Whatís surprising is the quality of Shimellís performance. He keeps up with Binoche and is in her league as an actor.

The film is as much about reality and the perception of reality as it is about a fledgling love affair happening in a single day. In French, Italian, but mostly English.

February 11, 2011