The debates, discussions and diatribes of Elle (Juliette Binoche), the owner of an antique shop outside of Tuscany, and James Miller's (William Shimell), an esteemed author whose latest work has just been translated into Italian, who may (or may not) be on the verge of a romantic relationship.
Is that synopsis vague enough for you? Good. It’s meant to be. Iranian writer/director Abbas Kiarostami’s (Taste of Cherry) latest Certified Copy is meant to be a little oblique, meant to keep the viewer guessing as to exactly what the reasons behind this relationship are and what it is that is driving the two of them onward. It is meant to perplex, meant to puzzle. But, most of all, it is meant to inspire and move, the delicate authenticity of their emotional connection so agonizingly true it can’t help but be recognizable on an utterly universal level.
What is it about? What is Kiarostami saying? That is entirely up to the viewer to decipher for themselves, and I imagine everyone that sees it will read what’s going on differently from the person sitting alongside of them doing the same. It is a human adventure of the soul, a simplistic ballet of give and take that’s as captivating as it is routine. What makes it so magical is that Elle and James’ time together feels entirely spur of the moment, and other than the opening sequence at a press conference almost completely unscripted. It’s like they’re actually living within the skins of the characters they are playing, both Binoche (who won the 2010 Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival) and Shimell disappearing so completely one could be forgiven if they forget they’re watching actors working within Kiarostami’s cinematic constructs.
To say more might be criminal. Certified Copy is the type of movie you could write an entire thesis about and never quite get to the heart of. Kiarostami has delivered his best, most masterful achievement in over a decade, showing once again why he is considered a modern master and without question one of the greatest directors working today. A masterpiece.
Certified Copy is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.85:1/1080p transfer. As stated in the included booklet: “The film was shot with 4K RAW using a Red digital camera, and the entire production was completed in a fully digital workflow. The color grading and digital interpositive were approved by director Abbas Kiarostami and director of photography Luca Bigazzi. The final color-corrected DPX files were output to Rec. 709 high-definition color space for BD and DVD release.”
Certified Copy comes to Blu-ray in French (with portions in English and Italian) DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and includes optional English SDH subtitles. Again, from the included booklet: “The film features a fully digital 5.1 surround soundtrack. The audio for this release was mastered at 24-bit from the original digital audio master files using Pro Tools HD.”
Extras here include:
· Let’s See “Copia Conforme” (52:05) – Fine Italian documentary on the making of the film featuring interviews with all the principal characters including director Abbas Kiarostami and actors Juliette Binoche and William Shimell.
· The Report (1977) (1:49:29) – Rarely seen film directed by Kiarostami that deals with many of the same themes presented in Certified Copy. Raw, not always fully formed, movie is nonetheless quite fascinating, and for any fan of the director this is as close to a must-watch as you can get.
· Interview with director Abbas Kiarostami (16:02) – In-depth interview with the esteemed director recorded by Criterion in Paris earlier this year, Kiarostami talks about what inspired him to make the film and all of the minute intricacies that make up Binoche and Shimell’s fluctuating relationship.
· Original Theatrical Trailer (2:14)
The Blu-ray also comes with a 20-page Illustrated Booklet featuring an essay by film critic Godfrey Cheshire.
Certified Copy is a heartbreaking marvel that gets better and better on closer examination. It holds up beautifully, and is a movie I’ll be sure to return to multiple times in the future. Criterion’s Blu-ray is a case study in how to present modern hi-def motion pictures for home consumption. In short, this disc is a downright marvel.