Let’s twist again, like we may have done last sum­mer

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Laurel Glad­den For The New Mex­i­can

Cer­ti­fied Copy; drama; not rated; in English, Ital­ian, and French with sub­ti­tles; The Screen; 3 chiles

IDo you like that topsy-turvy feel­ing you get from rid­ing a roller coaster, when down sud­denly be­comes up? Do you pre­fer movies in which noth­ing much hap­pens ex­cept a heady, very per­sonal con­ver­sa­tion be­tween two peo­ple? If so, I rec­om­mend you see Cer­ti­fied Copy, the lat­est film from highly es­teemed Ira­nian di­rec­tor Ab­bas Kiarostami ( Taste of Cherry, Close-Up). How­ever, let me also rec­om­mend that you put down your Pasatiempo with­out read­ing this re­view and see the film first. There’s al­most no way to dis­cuss Cer­ti­fied Copy with­out giv­ing away the cen­tral, crit­i­cal twist.

At least ini­tially, Cer­ti­fied Copy is like a dis­ori­ent­ing mid­dle-aged ver­sion of Richard Lin­klater’s Be­fore Sun­rise. Two at­trac­tive peo­ple, Elle ( Juli­ette Binoche) and James (Wil­liam Shimell), spend a day wan­der­ing the streets of a pic­turesque Tus­can vil­lage and chitchat­ting. They’re strangers get­ting to know — and maybe fall­ing for — each other. Or are they?

James, a Bri­tish au­thor, is in town pro­mot­ing his new book, which ad­dresses the idea that an orig­i­nal work of art is no more valu­able than a copy. Elle, an ex­pat French­woman who runs an an­tiques shop in town, ar­rives late for James’ lec­ture, and though she seems very in­ter­ested in him and his work, she leaves early to pla­cate her bored, fid­gety pre­teen son. She scrib­bles a note for the au­thor, though, and leaves it with a mu­tual friend. Later, he comes by her shop with a few hours to pass be­fore he has to catch a train. He sug­gests that they go out for some sight­see­ing and a lit­tle con­ver­sa­tion.

It seems like a spon­ta­neous first date, but this is no meet-cute. Elle’s be­hav­ior be­gins to vac­il­late be­tween twit­ter­pated and ob­se­quious to con­de­scend­ing, de­fen­sive, and even hos­tile. James takes it all in stride. The pro­pri­etress of a café where the two stop for cof­fee as­sumes they are mar­ried, and Elle does not cor­rect her. She’s just be­ing po­lite, right? But when James re­counts the event that gave him the idea for his book, Elle’s eyes fill with tears. She says his story “sounds quite fa­mil­iar,” adding, “I wasn’t well in those days.” Do the two know each other? Or are they both un­hinged?

Once Elle and James leave the café and re­sume their wan­der­ing, they are much more fa­mil­iar with — and less en­am­ored of — each other. Are they ac­tu­ally mar­ried? Is it sim­ply eas­ier for her to voice her griev­ances about her

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