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NYFF 2010. Tour Guide

Abbas Kiarostami’s masterful Certified Copy is based on a series of fluid formal shifts to match its conceit of two people playing at a fictional romance, an imitation, certified copy, of life: as the couple comes closer, Kiarostami’s shot-reverse-shots pivot from the side to head-on, so that the two are not only seen as in a mirror but become divided mirror images of each other, as their romance has been mirrored by the “real” world around them for an entire film, as their own mirrored selves wear languages and make-up as public faces to hide their true selves, etc. At every step similar to the tourist-eye’s naturalism of The Limits of Control, a copy of a copy of reality, a Tuscan romance the viewer can play along with through character surrogates in the passenger seat—talking of Michelangelo and floating in close-ups through hillside cafés—this all makes sense. As a game of bobo wish-fulfillment with a closed set of rules, any attempt at reconciling the irreconcilable, the bodies through the mind and a blind leap of faith in imagination—as in its two emblazoned influences, Marienbad and Voyage to Italy—is impossible in Kiarostami’s enlightened dada. Everything just stands for everything else. “Only allegorically whole and real, a Borges story photographically made to honor Aristotle’s rules of space and time,” wrote Danny Kasman. Where Godard has made it a career-long means to reclaim the reality from images and the images from reality, Kiarostami is content with his perfect play of matching images: every Tuscan cliché they see is merely themselves dolled up cutely for consumption, a public version of a private self that is hardly suggested even in moments of supposed contemplation. How can they be introspective when they can only see themselves? The line of thought is predetermined as it never is in Godard; all pretense of a naturalistic outside world short-circuits like the straight-on, screen-test close-ups in a public hall of mirrors. “Film Capitalisme” said Independencia.

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