Sunday, March 27, 2011

Abbas Kiarostami: Invitation to Self Reflection

The modicum of filmic expression never seems more mysteriously alive than in the hands of master Abbas Kiarostami, who has been stimulating our eyes and minds for the past forty years. His newest foray, Certified Copy, does not disappoint in that respect.

A multi-layered narrative posing as talky art film unveils to us once more Kiarostami's status as a director who utilizes his rare knowledge of the camera and the human heart to show us ourselves, our hopes and dreams and frailties. From a bravura opening sequence at a press conference, where a British writer (William Shimell) discusses his latest work, a text on the thin line between authenticity and reproduction in the art world, we are comfortably in the hands of a great creator. A local antiques dealer (Juliette Binoche) with a young son sets up a meeting with the author, which leads to a day of wandering sweetly sunkissed country roads and villages, where truths are revealed and kept hidden, where words go in circles and double back on themselves, where the roles of man amd woman, lover and beloved are called into question.

Here is a premise so simple, recalling Linklater's playful Before Sunrise/Sunset films, yet so dense, phantasmagoric and rich in it's subtleties and cadences that it feels thrillingly alive and wholly original. Shimmell and Binoche are simply brilliant as the man and woman, THE man and woman of all time, battling it out with words cast forth from yearning bodies, past, present and future a delicious muddle.

Kiarostami has a sure hand here, though he never fully reveals it, and all the better for that. In revisiting his cherished themes of masculinity, forward motion, communication, unquenched desire and the irrepressible wisdom of children, in his glorious Tuscany he has crafted one of his very best motion pictures.

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