Film Review: Certified Copy

On paper, Certified Copy is a strange recipe for a film. Produced and Directed by an Iranian, written in Italian, French and English and starring a British opera singer in his first ever role. But, in my mind, it’s one saving grace, the glue that will bind everything together is Juliette Binoche. An actress who seems to command respect even though you will probably struggle to name much of her filmography. Chocolat and Godzilla aside.

Somehow though, all the parts that worry you on paper about Certified Copy don’t make it into the final film. To start off with the triple billed language barrier passes without real notice. I think, because I don’t speak French or Italian beyond: hello, thank you and goodbye anyway, I was so reliant on the subtitles that the actual language I was translating didn’t seem to matter. You register the change in dialect but it doesn’t affect anything.

William Shimell - Certified Copy

Then you have William Shimell, staring in his first feature film, who gives a performances that while not outstanding, isn’t bad either. It’s believable and he looks the part. He fits with the image of the film. I think it helps that he is essentially being asked to just talk. To be nothing more than a person. He’s not really being asked to act, to react, but rather simply have a conversation. You get the feeling that rather than be given a script that portrays a character for him to play. He was given the script and told to use it as a reference to memorise.

And that’s where Certified Copy starts to fall apart. In its narrative. It’s beyond confusing. It has a story that as it progresses just seems to become more and more confused. It doesn’t twist but rather plods slowly and argumentatively into a strange direction that confuses as much as improves. For a film with such a small cast and such simplistic interaction to produce an end result that leaves you so baffled, bewildered and bored as to what exactly is going on or how the characters really relate to each other is quite a sad, but impressive feat.

Part of me wonders though, whether this film is as much about how you relate to the characters, as how they relate to each other. Whether, because I’m obviously not the target audience – Certified Copy is essentially two middle aged people talking – and I’m not in their age bracket, that I just see the world through different eyes and will never understand their logic? But that split between us, just meant that the longer it went on, the longer they seemed to be less and less compatible, the more and more I withdrew from the film. I more and more I just thought “you would have stormed off after they spoke to you like that, not countered it with pretentious nonsense”.

William Shimell & Juilette Binoche - Certified Copy

Huge parts of this film come across as nothing more than two stubborn people arguing. And that really doesn’t make for a good film. This is then hampered further by the pace at which it is set. The passing of time on screen seems to fly by, an hour feels like a minute, but the discomfort caused by the narrative by the character interaction seems to slow everything down. Words seem to hang for just a second too long and there is just something about two people verbally fighting that seems to cause their surrounding to rotate slower, and more pathetically than normal.

I can honestly say that I hated Certified Copy. I found it boring, confusing and unpleasant. It seems to have been garnishing great responses from critics but I just can’t see it. I found a film that is preachy in its underlying tones and lacking sense in its meaning. Truly, it’s just not entertaining. It’s a day in a life of two people who would never spend more than a few minutes together, that twist their journey into a confusing route that leaves you cold.

Honestly, I want my money back.

4 out of 10 stars (4 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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