Movies: Certified Copy ***
(PG, limited release)
Abbas Kiarostami's Certified Copy is the kind of deliberately obtuse arthouse meditation that will infuriate some and might have enraged me too if I hadn't had Juliette Binoche to look at. She is as luminous as ever and on top form in a film that to be fair is not without either interest or memorable moments.
Binoche is an unnamed Frenchwoman who lives in Tuscany and runs a small antique shop.
At the start of the film, she takes her smartass teenage son to a reading by a visiting English author and art historian James Miller (played, in his film debut, by opera singer William Shimell).
She seems much taken with him and, after meeting again at her shop, they agree to go out for a drive together. After they stop in a small Tuscan town, they wander through the narrow streets telling each other their stories.
She was left years ago by the father of her child and doesn't seem to have gotten over it. But at a certain point the possibility emerges that James might in fact be the errant dad, and that the couple are opening old wounds.
I say possibility -- because it's equally likely that they're two comparative strangers playing at having a row.
He's arch and pompous, she temperamental in the extreme, and most of Kiarostami's film consists of their battle to gain the upper hand.
What does it all mean? Damned if I know, but it all looks pleasant enough.
Shimell proves a competent actor, at least in this stiff role, and Binoche pushes herself to the limit in extended scenes that often involve her gorgeous, anguished face speaking directly to camera.