Tag: abbas kiarostami

Certified Copy

Certified Copy (2010)
★★★ / ★★★★

While James Miller (William Shimell) delivers a lecture for his new book about art, a woman (Juliette Binoche), unnamed throughout the film, gives her telephone number to one of James’ friends, to be given to him after the lecture, on the off chance he wants to grab coffee and discuss his novel one-on-one. Later, James meets up with the mysterious woman in her underground gallery and they eventually decide to take a walk around the Southern Tuscany village.

Written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami, the thesis of a “Certified Copy,” the same as the message in our male protagonist’s book, is that a copy is as good as the original. As the strangers discuss the subject of art through nature and manmade architecture, while driving and walking, respectively, the writer-director throws in clues that hint at the possibility that the two of figures on screen, who we naturally assume to be strangers, have known each other for years.

A key scene involves a coffee shop owner (Gianna Giachetti) identifying the strangers as a couple going through deeply-rooted marital problems. There are research studies that support the idea that some people who do not know us personally, especially those of a certain age, have the ability to read strangers with enough clarity through body language. While it is easy to jump to the conclusion that James and the stranger are husband and wife, I think doing so does the writing a disservice.

They are written smart and self-aware. During their first moments of interaction, it appears as though the woman yearns for meaning, almost obsessively, though we do not know exactly of what nature. Casting Binoche is a excellent decision because she has the gift of communicating her characters’ interior lives through only her eyes. Here, she hides her character’s sadness just a little–but more than enough for us to ask questions. She feels detached from her son and wishes to remedy it. However, when they walk toward the same destination, why does she choose to walk several feet ahead instead next to him and making an active attempt to make a connection through conversation?

The woman takes comfort in the book, buying at least six–supposedly for her sister and friends, and James takes notice of it. Despite the fact that, during the second half, the woman and the author discuss the many challenges in their marriage, like he not noticing her efforts of primping herself up even for just a simple dinner, it is very possible that it is all a game of pretend. It is important to consider that James is acting like a reporter by engaging with his subject through her sadness. One can make an argument that by pretending to be different people in public, the man and the woman feel a sense of freedom.

Furthermore, the movie is interested in rules. For example, the characters’ upper bodies are consistently in front of frames. The windows and doors have certain shapes, usually a square or a rectangle, and there are rules that define such shapes. The script also mentions the characters’ habits like how James only shaves every other day.

Also known as “Copie conforme,” the film is intriguing and challenging because it is not so much about the answers than it is about possibilities. Not only does it dare us to gauge our ability when it comes to reading other persons it also measures our patience toward people we do not know or might not want to know.


Tickets (2005)
★★★ / ★★★★

“Tickets,” directed by Abbas Kiarostami, Ken Loach and Ermanno Olmi, weaved three stories aboard a train heading toward Rome. The first was a pharmacology professor (Carlo Delle Piane) who rushed home because he promised he would be back for his grandson’s birthday. But when he met the PR Lady (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) of the company who helped him obtain a last-minute spot on the train, he couldn’t help but think of her on the way home. The second strand involved a difficult aging Italian woman (Silvana De Santis) and what it seemed like to be her son named Filippo (Filippo Trojano). Trouble began when they knowingly occupied seats which happened to be reserved. The final story involved three young men, supermarket attendants in their hometown, from Scotland (Martin Compston, Gary Maitland, William Ruane) on their way to see an epic football match. When one of them couldn’t find his train ticket, one of them was convinced that a kid, an Albanian refugee, was to blame. I watched “Tickets” in complete fascination because each story had a special story to tell. I loved that the stories weren’t necessarily important in order for us to appreciate them. The film started off with a quiet power propelled by every day happenings. Feelings of loneliness were explored when the professor fantasized about a woman whom he might never see again. We’ve all been in his situation where we stared at our computer screen and struggled to capture the right words to someone who we considered to hold a certain importance: an employer, a friend, a crush. Its tone was different from the other two because, due to the way it was shot at times, the aging man’s reality almost felt like a fantasy. For instance, everyone happened to turn their heads at the same time to look at a certain exciting happening in a corner. Those of us who’ve been on train rides know that there’s all sorts of distraction going on that it’s rare for everyone to focus on only one thing. The dream-like quality, purposely slow-paced, worked because it highlighted the professor’s yearning for romance. The bit involving the Italian woman and her escort held my attention because of the way it unfolded. I had all sorts of wild ideas like Filippo having recently woken up from a coma, an amnesia as a temporary side effect, because it explained why he had so many questions about his own life. His conversations with a childhood friend, whom he initially didn’t recognize, was often interrupted by the Italian lady and her ridiculous demands. I wondered how Filippo could have the patience to withstand her nasty personality. I would have left her on the train, her ticket hidden my pocket. And then there was the three lads forced to weigh the importance between a football match and helping refugees in need. I think it was the strongest of the three. It had a subtle lesson about tolerance and the kindness that three young men exuded was ultimately hopeful. Having been around individuals like them in public transportations, I expected them to be rowdy and nothing more. However, they ended up having a lot of heart as their struggle to do good cut through the fog. I wanted to get to know them more. “Tickets” offered different stories, but the way it was put together highlighted common themes such as what it meant to love, in more ways than one, other people. Sometimes we do need to be reminded that it’s important to care for things outside of ourselves.