Review: Copie Conforme

by Matthew Blevins

Dir. Abbas Kiarostami
France | Italy | Belgium
106 Mins

“Who dare say the leafless garden is not beautiful?” Love may lose its fervor as time passes and we become more cynical and world weary, but is it any less beautiful than love that is in the springtime of its genesis? Does it matter if we are crushed by the harsh realities of existence and no longer believe in the possibility of all things? If the value of art is solely identified by the subjective interpretation of the observer then is there not an intrinsic beauty in all things? These are merely some of the questions that permeate our thoughts as we drift through the rustic and ancient streets of Lucignano Italy in Kiarostami’s Copie Conforme. The deceptive simplicity of the film catches us off guard and puts us in to an unexpected and unrecoverable tailspin of introspective reflection.

As we live our lives we collect experiences, heartaches, love, broken promises, human connections, shifts in ideologies, and unresolved debts. These debts aren’t necessarily monetary, they are those missed opportunities of reconciliation that etch themselves on to our souls and form a permanent scar. These are the unavoidable battle wounds of a life fully lived. If we haven’t earned them yet then we may never know what it is to experience meaningful connections with other people. Kiarostami has given Juliette Binoche’s Elle and William Shimmel’s James a chance at healing a small portion of those wounds as they act as avatars for those that you never had the chance to tell how you really felt. The intelligence and self awareness of these characters allows them to fall in to their roles as comfortably as a well worn pair of boots. It doesn’t matter if they had just met; they have both fought in the same war of human connections and have the battle scars to prove it.

Art is a reflection of humanity and completely subjective so are we to say that Elle and James can’t use one another to heal old wounds? Isn’t it the genuine emotional response that is important? We peel back one layer and remember that these two were never in a relationship, but that doesn’t matter because we are watching a film and these people didn’t really exist anyways. Does watching a fictional film about actors playing fictional characters that are in turn hashing out problems in a fictional relationship make the emotional impact any less poignant? That is where the real art lies, in the recesses of our subconscious as the mere act of observation awakens something inside of us that is deeply personal and profoundly real.

The most powerful part of this film is that it has the ability to evolve with us as we grow in age and life experiences. Our interpretations will shift and tend towards different sides of the spectrum of cynicism as we cross important mile markers in life or have our expectations and attitudes tempered by the harsh hammer of heartbreaking reality. The malleability of our soul is what makes us human. It doesn’t matter if we see it as a soft reflection on the evolution of romantic relationships, or as a harsh reminder of the transience of all things. Either way it is beautiful and who dare say otherwise.

93/100 - The deceptive simplicity of the film catches us off guard and puts us in to an unexpected and unrecoverable tailspin of introspective reflection.

Matthew Blevins

Behind me you see the empty bookshelves that my obsession with film has caused. Film teaches me most of the important concepts of life, such as cynicism, beauty, ugliness, subversion of societal norms, and what it is to be a tortured member of humanity. My passion for the medium is an important part of who I am as I stumble through existence in a desperate and frantic search for objective truths.
  • Christopher Misch

    For me Certified Copy further illustrated that Kiarostami is among the handful of directors who have complete control over the cinematic medium.

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