One could maybe argue Juliette Binoche's recent - unprovoked - spat with Gerard Depardieu couldn't have been better timed. With the release of her latest film, Certified Copy, the free publicity surely wouldn't hurt. Or would it?
Set to the beautiful backdrop of Tuscany, a French antiques dealer (Binoche) falls for a tall, handsome English writer (William Shimell). As the film progresses the relationship between the two, apparent, strangers seems to run deeper than the audience were originally led to believe.
It's perhaps quite absurd of me to say but, this is my first time experiencing any of, director, Abbas Kiarostami's films on the big screen. Though not being familiar with his work, I was very much aware of his widely acclaimed reputation as an innovative film-maker. Unfortunately for Certified Copy, his reputation very much preceded him this time around.
Though beautifully shot, the film's narrative often felt confused and direction-less, and these unfortunate shortcomings often crept into the leading characters chemistry. Which is a shame because the acting talent was clearly evident for all to see, Binoche's wide-eyed wonder and enthusiasm was just as captivating as her more melancholic moments, which provoked faint memories of seeing her for the first time in Three Colours: Blue - mostly justifying her Best Actress award at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
William Shimell's character, was almost a 'Yin' to Binoche's 'Yang', in some instances they were very similar, yet in others polar opposites. Watching their relationship unfold on screen was often quite frustrating, and the moments of sincere intimacy were subtle as well as few and far between. Kiarostami however, leaves the audience to decide whether the quirky, often conflicting couple deserved to stay together.
If the writing of the film left much to be desired - bogged down by needless philosophical and existential waffle - the director's technical execution was nothing short of breathtaking. There were several nods to suggest Kiarostami cared for his leading lady, and developed this unique chemistry, in the same way the brilliant Pedro Almodovar has often used Penelope Cruz in his films. I often found myself noticing a striking similarity in both director's styles with the face-to-face camera angles often deployed during the film's more intimate moments such as, the leading characters staring into a mirror or having a conversation in a cafe or restaurant.
Beneath all the convoluted, philosophical tosh spouted from the two main characters, lay a film yearning for some real direction and absolution. Though beautifully filmed and filled with the best of intentions, trying to offer its heart and soul to the audience, regrettably like its leading male Certified Copy often leaves you feeling cold and excluded from something which, could have been so much more meaningful.
See This If You Liked...
Three Colours: Blue, Chocolat, Journey to Italy
Certified Copy is in selected cinemas across the UK now. Northern Irish audiences can see the film in the Queen's Film Theatre from Friday.