Quick-Thoughts: Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy (2010)

Abbas Kiarostami Marathon Part VI of VI

Abbas Kiarostami must’ve watched Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy and said to himself afterwards, “F**k it! I can totally do all of that with just ONE movie, except it’ll have ANOTHER creative gimmick to it, that way, my ‘copy’ will be superior to the original and fit perfectly with the spirit of my film’s main motif too!”

I have no qualms with Certified Copy. This is a seamless, brainiac idea that is composed of basically an ongoing conversation between two strangers, a mother and a supposed father, who slowly begin surreally roleplaying as each other’s husband and wife as if it were nature’s intention. The film is clearly obsessed with the classic debate on how original one human being, one piece of art, or one center of a so-called “origin” can truly be, and it starts you off with a ton of grand, philosophical-oriented dialogue, but then begins maturing itself with a physical exemplar transformation of the two main characters expressing each other as a problematic married couple. They are able to cook up romance, contempt, and memories out of what may seem like thin air but could only be proof of a sideline view of just how similar we are as a race, as if the human individual can be shared in copies of one another, like a single soul living in countless bodies. 

Certified Copy is brimmed to the bone with visual intelligence, as well, leaving little opportunities for its themes not to be conveyed with either framed or backdrop parallels. Next to Close-Up, this is Kiarostami working at his peak with cinematography, collaborating with Paolo Sorrentino’s usual handyman, Luca Bigazzi. Here, they have set up compositions that somehow amplify to the best of their abilities despite being in a primarily performance and dialogue-based output. 

For a guy who could be and probably is considered one of cinema’s most “experimental” filmmakers, it seems as if even he has doubt too that anything in our world is original, including his own groundbreaking pieces, yet that’s nothing really to fear, as copies can be just as if not more beautiful, effective, and refreshing than its contemporary. Well, in progress, we are all copies waiting to meet those we had once met before again, in reproduced lineages of flesh, so why not treat each other, each stranger, as such once in a while? Art is art, and we have all the time in the world to make it — this is what “fun” is about, what “life” is about, right?

Verdict: A+

A Meditation on the Everyday (Kiarostami Ranked), My All-Time Favorite Movies

“Certified Copy” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

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