How is it possible that I’ve been watching Juliette Binoche for a quarter of a century and she just keeps getting more beautiful? From “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” to “Damage” to “Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights” to “Three Colors: Blue” to “The Horseman on the Roof” to “The English Patient” to “Chocolat” to “The Widow of Saint-Pierre” to “Cache” to “Summer Hours” to 2011’s “Certified Copy” and the yet-to-be-released, but certain-to-be-seen (it’s a Cronenberg after all) “Cosmopolis”—it’s been a long and fruitful love affair (for me anyway). I am absolutely beguiled by her. In the middle of it all, I even managed to see her onstage in her lone Broadway outing back in 2001, playing the part of Emma in Harold Pinter’s masterful “Betrayal”. Yeah, she’s just as enthralling in person. During that time she’s grown substantially as an actress too, eventually becoming a Cesar Award and Venice Film Festival winner (“Three Colors: Blue”), an Oscar winner (“The English Patient”), and the Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award winner for “Certified Copy”. Clearly, she is highly celebrated, in multiple languages, on either side of the Atlantic. She will be 48 years old next month-23 when I first set eyes in “Unbearable Lightness”. And “Certified Copy” is quite possibly her grandest achievement of all.
There are rumblings that the Richard Linklater/Julie Delpy/Ethan Hawke team may soon return for a 3rd go-round with their renowned “Before Sunrise/Sunset” meditation. Bravo to that, but I believe that director Abbas Kiarostami has beaten them to the punch with “C. C.”. Indeed, the walking-and-talking structure is right in line with the “Before” series. And the evolution of a relationship aspect follows the “Sunrise/Sunset” pattern too. However, we always know exactly who the Delpy and Hawke characters are in the Linklater films, but we’re never quite certain how Binoche and William Shimell are related in “Copy”. Have they just met, or have they known each other for years? Was their introduction in the film a chance meeting, or was it entirely by design? Are the places they encounter being visited together for the first time, or have they been there before? I am still not sure what is real, what is faked or what’s a copy. That’s the point, of course, and it’s a mesmerizing journey in English, Italian and French. Will you care? I did. And depending on what you may decide actually is happening, may lead you to equal parts heartbreak and hope. To give away much more would be sinful. Just know that you’ll also get to appreciate some gorgeous Tuscan countryside throughout it all. And, of course, gaze upon Ms. Binoche.
This knockout piece-of-work was criminally ignored in the United States. It was released here in March of 2011, but won acclaim at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival first. It garnered praise throughout Europe in the months that followed Cannes, and then did the Film Festival circuit all over the world (including New York’s), before finally landing a limited U.S. release roughly a year ago. Like “Summer Hours” before it (also starring Binoche), there was pay-per-view television availability On Demand. This is an option I am using more and more often (it’s also how I first watched Lars von Trier’s incredible “Melancholia”). It provides an access that might otherwise never arrive. For instance, “Certified Copy” has still not been given a proper stateside DVD release! Thank the constellations for Netflix streaming. And if you are adventurous, and curious, and patient–and simply adore Ms. Juliette as much as I do…be sure to find it there. Grade: A