Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Copie conforme

Certified Copy / Iltapäivä Toscanassa. FR/IT/IR 2010 (c) 2009 MK2 Productions, Abbas Kiarostami Productions, BiBi Film, etc. P: Abbas Kiarostami, Marin Karmitz, etc. D+SC: Abbas Kiarostami. DP: Luca Bigazzi - shot on digital RED 4K. S: Dominique Vieillard. ED: Bahman Kiarostami. LOC: Tuscany (Italy). CAST: Juliette Binoche (Elle), William Shimell (James Miller). 106 min. In English, French, and Italian. A MK2 35mm print with English subtitles by Massoumeh Lahidji. Viewed at Cinema Lapinsuu at Sodankylä (Midnight Sun Film Festival), 16 June 2010.

Digital video look.

A major Abbas Kiarostami road movie set in Italy. A man promoting his new book called Certified Copy meets a woman in Tuscany, they take a ride in her car to the idyllic town of Lucignano, and gradually we realize that they are husband and wife, who have been married for 15 years, and the destination is their honeymoon room, but the man has been seriously estranged from the woman played by Juliette Binoche. This is a play for two human beings, constantly on the move, with intelligent conversation on the authenticity of art, and with a succession of reflections both in the literal and in the metaphoric sense. The screenplay would be worth reading, and the film will reward repeat viewings.

The visual composition of the film is excellent, but I deplore the loss of the quality of light and richness of colour because of the digital video origins. Kiarostami is a champion of the digital video, but how much finer this celebration of Tuscany beauty would be if it had been photographed on 35 mm film.

P.S.: Copie conforme was much discussed in Sodankylä, and most felt that the man and the woman were strangers who were playing an odd game with one another. But Yrjö and Pirjo Pulkkinen who saw the film twice in Sodankylä found in the second screening more clues that indicated that they were or had been married.

P.S. 7 Aug 2010: in the Sight and Sound, September 2010 issue there is a lot of material on Copie conforme, including interviews and a (pretty negative) review. There is a reality basis to Copie conforme, an experience of Kiarostami, himself: they are strangers who play a game. But Kiarostami, himself, accepts that the film can be interpreted in two ways.

P.S. 22 May 2011: I just read the review by Kari Salminen "A Work of Art Is an Authentic Copy" (Turun Sanomat, 18 March 2011), an excellent crystallization of the Kiarostami mystery. The opening half-an-hour lecture is the exposition of the theme, and the rest of the film is a playful dramatization of relationships in the Rossellini-Antonioni tradition. The man and the woman play their roles so well that they are about to believe in them. Everything in the movie is a copy, but it is a certified copy.

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