Puzzles: Certified Copy

After delivering a lecture based on his book about the efficacy of forgeries and reproductions, a rather stiff James Miller (William Shimell) accepts an invitation from “Elle” (Juliette Binoche) to act as chauffeur and cicerone in Tuscany. Exchanges with villagers and passersby suggest that these two are not only not strangers but a long-married couple. I’m not sure I fully accept the metaphysical games in Certified Copy , especially since they tease unwelcome memories of Last Year in Marienbad, but writer-director Abbas Kiarostami’s hand is so sure, and Binoche and Shimell so committed to their characters that I accepted the dotty legerdemain. And what do you know — a second look revealed the subtlety with which Kiarostami teases the audience. The opening lecture scene, for example, is a masterful example of terse cutting and framing; the relationships between characters are clear. By the time the actors ease into their final scene — a smiling, uninhibited Binoche in a dimly lit room purring words to Shimell — it was as if I had seen the arc of a forty-year marriage in an hour and forty minutes. With Bunuel screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière in a witty cameo at a crucial point in the narrative.

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