Wednesday, 11 August 2010
O.K., we pretty much know the story behind the film by now – Kiarostami has returned to true-blue narrative film-making and has also made his first film outside of the framework of his native Iran. It may be that Kiarostami's placement of this film within the Euro-art-house film brigade will rankle the fans of his signature style, and perhaps there may be some kind of backlash against this film.... but if the film is viewed on its own terms, then we have something that is actually enjoyable and rewarding. The film is almost like a game. The English man is a philosopher, the French woman is an antique dealer. He has written a treatise philosophising about the copy of a work of art rather than original, while she deals with both original antiques and copies. They meet, they talk, they argue, they travel through the Italian countryside. Soon it becomes difficult to discern reality from pretend in their relationship, whether they are newly-met and are playing the role of husband and wife, or whether they have in fact been once married and initially played the role of not being so familiar with each other. Or perhaps the viewer is fooled, believing that the relationship can be easily assessed in a clear black-and-white manner. And all of this is not so far from Kiarostami's earlier work – for example, Close-Up also manipulates the idea of real and not-real. The incremental shift in this relationship unravels with near-imperceptible grace, and while William Shimell is a tad wooden, Juliette Binoche once again reveals her inexhaustable talent.