Sam Adams at the AV Club of The Onion:
Abbas Kiarostami put Iran’s resurgent film culture on the international map when Taste Of Cherry won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1997. Before that, he’d won acclaim with Where Is the Friend’s House?, Life And Nothing More…, Through The Olive Trees, and Close-Up. The lattermost retold the story of Ali Sabzian, who ingratiated himself with a wealthy Tehran family by impersonating Kiarostami’s colleague Mohsen Makhmalbaf—a story whose collision between film and real life was made more pronounced by Kiarostami casting Sabzian and Makhmalbaf as themselves, and the use of real footage from Sabzian’s court trial. (Unfortunately, almost none of Kiarostami’s pre-Taste of Cherry work is commercially available in America, with the notable exception of Criterion’s recent Close-Up Blu-ray.) In the last decade, Kiarostami has been shooting almost exclusively on digital video, and his work has grown more abstract: 2008’s Shirin, shot in his basement in Tehran, is composed of shots of women watching an unseen film; 2003’s Five: Dedicated To Ozu is closer to video art, comprising five static long takes in which the rhythms of life take on a lyrical, sometimes comic significance.
Certified Copy is something else entirely. A film of firsts: Kiarostami’s first feature shot outside of Iran (in Tuscany) and his first to rest on the performance of a professional actor (a virtuosic turn by Juliette Binoche), as well as his first narrative in a decade.