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Certified Copy [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English/French/Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: NR
  • Run Time: 106 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: May 22, 2012
  • List Price: $39.95

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

I had an interesting debate with someone over what imparts value in an object. Naturally the discussion veered off into differing thoughts on perception, but the idea was that everyone somehow makes their own reality and we all impart our own sense of value and reality into what we cherish. This whole philosophical debate stemmed from a viewing of the PBS series Antiques Road Show and a particular episode where a man brought in some rusty tin cans that ended up being worth tens of thousands of dollars.

The reason I mention this, is that one of the central characters in Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami’s (Taste of Cherry; Through the Olive Trees) first “European” film Certified Copy (Copie Conforme), James Miller (William Shimell), is a writer who has penned a book entitled Copie conforme (Certified Copy), in which he puts forth the idea that everyone would be just as satisfied with copies of great works of art as the originals. Juliette Binoche’s character, who is never referred to by name in the film, is so intrigued by Miller’s assertion at an appearance in Tuscany on his book tour, that she agrees to take him to village of Lucignano to view artworks.

This is where Kiarostami’s film takes an interesting intellectual turn. Until now, we’ve been in familiar, if still far better than Hollywood, romantic comedy territory, but when a woman in a café mistakes the pair for a married couple, Binoche fails to correct her and instead invents a fifteen-year marriage between the two that, for whatever reason, Miller decides to play along with. From that point on, the pair are a bickering, married couple working through a fifteen-year-old relationship, just past their anniversary. They, in essence, are mirroring the theory of creating your own realty that Miller has written in his book.

Kiarostami perhaps leaves things a little too open, never really answering or questioning why these two people are so willingly at play in this false relationship, particularly Miller, who seems to have the least to gain from the whole thing. The long, flowing camera shots, not unlike that of Hitchcock, the beautiful Tuscan backdrops and the aural vehicle of often pushing the main dialogue out of focus for a more realistic sense of how we hear things in the world nonetheless make for an interesting and thought provoking romantic comedy that Hollywood could never dream of.

The film struggles the most in its mismatch of leads. Binoche, always a fine actress and winner of the Best Actress award at the 2010 Cannes for her role here, is marvelous, but she is coupled with William Shimell who is really an opera singer and not an actor proper. He does an alright job holding down the role, but one can easily tell he is overwhelmed by Binoche’s far superior acting skills in their back-and-forth scenes. Still, it is hardly enough to take away from this quietly delightful treasure.

(Editor’s Note: A version of the above review on the film was previously published as our Certified Copy (Copie Conforme) [UK Release] Blu-ray Review. All Screen captures were taken from their respective releases.)

Video Quality

[Rating:5/5]

Copie Conforme was captured in HD on a Red One camera at 4K resolution. It looks just as one would expect from a high resolution digital production: pristine and highly detailed. In fact, I reviewed a previous UK Blu-ray release of this film from Artificial Eye and thought it looked rather desaturated. In contrast, no pun intended, this Criterion release, has more color saturation and is also darker, imparting a stronger sense of contrast. Darks look more solid, blues, in particular, seem more vivid. Shadow detail is still rather strong and nicely nuanced, however. I notice, also, that this Criterion release, in comparison to the Artificial Eye, appears to have a slight bit more high frequency information, looking a little more detailed and sharply textured. Pores on skin stand out a bit more, and so on.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

This multi-lingual (English/French/Italian) DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24bit) soundtrack offers clear dialogue and good spacing of sounds across the front three channels. With that being said, the surround channels are rather quiet and lows are just about nonexistent.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]


While the booklet for this release seems a bit slight in comparison to some other Criterion Collection releases, the content is of an extraordinary level of quality. The sole essay from filmmaker and critic Godfrey Cheshire, “At Home and Abroad” gives spot on insight into the mind and world of Kiarostami, his Iranian heritage, and friendships.

The supplements:

  • The Report (1.33:1; AVC/MPEG-4; 1080p/24; Persian Dolby Digital Mono; 01:49:29) – This extremely rare film, director Abbas Kiarostami’s second feature, was encoded from the only surviving element that Criterion was able to find: an old analog video master made from a subtitled theatrical print that was damaged from heavy use. According to Kiarostrami, the original negative was destroyed during the Iranian revolution.
  • Abbas Kiarostrami (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:16:02) – This interview with director Abbas Kiarostrmi was recorded in Paris in 2012 by the Criterion Collection.
  • Let’s See Copia Conforme (1.78:1; up-scaled; 00:52:05) – This behind-the-scenes documentary by Irene Bufo features footage from the set of Certified Copy in Tuscany, as well as interviews with director Abbas Kiarostami, actors Juliette Binoche and william Shimell, cinematographer Luca Bigazzi, and producer Angelo Barbagallo.
  • Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Booklet: The booklet features an essay on the film, film credits, details on the transfer and more.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

Certified Copy is not perfect, but at least Kiarostami, with this film, has tried to take the usual rom-com road trip film to whole new intellectual level. With Juliette Binoche’s usual level of excellence as the true force that holds the whole thing together, the film makes for an excellent alternative to the usual date night pap.

Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

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