Dear Certified Copy (Rick’s Take),
When you immerse me deep in the everyday of such a breathtaking French woman, I find that I am swept away in this intimate European film in a way that is almost effortless. With a barely inferred and quite unclear connection between this man and woman early on, there is still a palpable desire demonstrated.
As Elle (played by the utterly amazing Juliette Binoche,) decides to whisk away a touring British author as he travels with his new book, I am unsure of their connection, though there seems to be a tale that exists between them. It is instantly interesting, from the book meeting from which Elle is forced out early by her son. They go elsewhere, but there occurs a seemingly well worn and terse exchange between them that furthers the mystery of these two people.
Elle gives the author James Miller, (played by William Shimell) her address, and the next day they meet and take a rambling country drive to a local Italian village. Here, they discuss various works of art found in the town, and also the nature of their relationship – which gets both more revealed and concealed as the day progresses. As they drive along I am so fondly reminded of those tenuous but genuine moments from the masterful Before films with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. There is that same unvarnished feeling here. But the relationship is still a mystery.
Then, finally, there is the stop for coffee and cappuccino and some insight into the heart of the matter, followed closely by the conversation with the old Italian lady and a moment of understanding. It does, yet doesn’t, burst a bubble. It does, but doesn’t, carry the weight of empathy and all the time it never wavers in its poignancy and wish to grasp something not here in the present moment, between this man and woman.
Eventually, as Elle’s visit back to the beginning shows us her heart, the here-and-now story winds its way down to a non-resolution where there are real moments throughout and they are not always comfortable. But what it reminds us is that life is infinitely variable and one mans shackle would be another mans beautiful bliss. Ultimately it also celebrates the power in meeting in the middle and the power of lifting each other up and the blessed gift it bestows on those that possess the wisdom to do it.
What filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has created here is a lush, beautiful and realistic snapshot of humanity and the love that flows through and around it.
We will see each other again Elle, and I will cherish you in my heart,