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“Oh, fun, at last a version of “Before Sunrise” for grown-ups” was what I thought while watching “Certified Copy” … the parallel is stunning during the opening scenes: A rather random encounter between a woman (Juliette Binoche) and an author of a book with slightly strange theories about original and copies in the art world. Plenty of talking, only on a slightly more mature level than the teenage dreamscapes of Linklater’s earlier film.

What’s strange about the book that lends its title to this film and about the ensuing conversation about his theories is not that these theories would be particularly dumb – you can easily argue in favour of the artistic value of copies, of course. What is strange is that he filled a whole book with it, without even being an art expert, and they spend a long car ride circling around the topic, while the content is rather banal, blown up to a large scale theory only by the force of modern bourgeois’ ability to savour one’s own debates excessively (Woody Allen minus the depression).

Is it a romance we see evolving? An intellectual challenge? Turns out what we have been had on, what we see is a copy of something that used to be real, but like the 5th generation cassette-tape copy of a record that once sounded crystal clear, this copy has lost most of its brilliance and dynamics. Especially in Binoche’s character, we still see the true colours of the original shining and sounding through, and she brings all her force of the mature woman to it (she is so much more interesting at her age now that she was when she was considered the sexy twen star), almost but not quite despairing over the man’s inability to keep up with her.

I do not want to spoil the plot twists (if there are any), but the question of what is actually going on and what is the relationship between the two characters is central. Roger Ebert speculates about this a bit in his review, and I like his idea that the reality we are observing changes in the course of the film, or maybe it is actually the time that changes. I could also imagine that Iranian director Kiarostami (who was responsible for the fabulous “Taste of Cherry” in 1998) does not really care what is “true”, “false”, “original” or “copy”. He maybe leaves that to the audience to decide, and that is just fine with me.

Ebert’s Review: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110316/REVIEWS/110319982/1023

Rotten Tomatoes: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/certified_copy/

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