IT'S DIFFICULT to discuss a film like Certified Copy without compromising the experience of it for the viewer, dependent as it is on your confusion. The film's an extremely talky, intellectual exercise that owes a lot to the beauty of the Tuscan countryside and the magnetism of Juliette Binoche, who took best actress at Cannes for her turn as Elle in the film. (Her rather wooden costar, opera singer William Shimell, as James, can't help but suffer in comparison.) Were it not for these pleasures, Certified would only keep its audience confused, and perhaps exasperated, with its late-night-in-the-dorm-room musings on authenticity in art and love.
The first of his films to be set outside of his native Iran, Abbas Kiarostami (Taste of Cherry, The Wind Will Carry Us) is interested in the value of fakery—as in (money aside), what the importance is between an original piece of art versus a really great copy. And likewise, if the inevitable stages of indifference and cruelty in relationships mean that, to a certain extent, the individuals involved are interchangeable. In Certified Copy, this endless discussion is carried on in various stages of intimacy between Elle and James, who seem at various points to be strangers on an awkward first date or a long-married couple. (And what's the difference? Really? Etc.) At least you can always just enjoy the scenery.