Chris’s review published on Letterboxd:
There is no doubt whatsoever that Kiarostami was a true virtuoso at obliterating the conventional expectations of narrative driven cinema. Certified Copy appears to push his reoccuring thematic elements of self-identity, perception, fragile relationships and fiction overlapping reality to their very limits within such a medium in a way that casts a disorientating spell over the entire picture.
What initially looks like a prolonged interaction between two people who've just met undergoes a metamorphosis before our very eyes until it's difficult to discern what type of connection they really share. We're effectively seeing a multitude of potential narratives intersecting until they're turned into a single thread over the course of a day, transitioning from one to another seemingly at whim; two like-minded strangers journeying together, a couple near the beginning of their relationship, a marriage during an anniversary, even someone placing the characteristics of their spouse onto another person (as Binoche's character appears to do during the cafe scene). It all gets right to the very foundations of personal relationships, asking how much strife comes from our own projections and how much of the bond we form is simply part of an act itself.
All the while, the central thesis looms over every discussion; always exploring how much value a copy contains when compared to the original and if a copy can hold enough worth that it can take the place of the original without making much of a difference. It's applied to both the art we contemplate and the relationships we build; does a duplicate painting lose its merit if you can't tell the difference? Or does reassuring your partner with a hand on the shoulder lose its affection because you copied it from someone else? I also feel as though Kiarostami is using the theory to comment on the cinematic format itself by depicting that the nature of film (and art in general) is whatever the creator wants it be, hence why this storyline is able to change focus or shift direction at any moment. It's his meta motif reaching its logical conclusion.
The only fault I have is that I do think Kiarostami gets too caught up in the trickery of the concept at times, something which makes certain sections run out of steam and causes some of the emotions to come across as somewhat detached. However, he deserves praise for making a film of intriguing contridictions. Simultaneously his most challenging and his most free-flowing, defiantly abstruse and gleefully playful, both an examination and a performance. That is not an easy feat.