Juliette Binoche won the Best Actress award at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival for her performance here, and it’s not hard to understand why. Binoche is funny, playful, angry, pouting, and radiantly beautiful. There are scenes of intimacy that feel as if it’s just you and Binoche, as when she looks in a mirror – the camera actually – and applies her lipstick, trys on a few pair of earrings.
Binoche plays a French ex-pat living in Tuscany above her antiques shop with her young son. She attends a lecture from an English author who has written on the nature of authenticity in art, a subject that interests her. He argues that what’s the difference between the original and the copy if they both give equal pleasure. Art itself is a copy of what is seen in nature.They take a ride, talking all the while and end up in a small Tuscan village and sit in a little cafe. While he is outside the elderly cafe owner engages her in conversation. She assumes they are married (she heard them arguing just like a long married couple). How many years have you two been married? She asks. Without missing a beat, Binoche’s character takes up the role of a bickering married couple. When the author, James, comes back in he picks up on what has happened and plays along. For the balance of the film the two argue, bicker, discuss art, wine, children, marriage, happiness (the whole point of life, according to James), loneliness and communication. They are not an authentic married couple, just a certified copy of one, but they function just like a real one nonetheless.
This was all initially disconcerting (had I missed something?), but that just did not matter. Were they real or playacting? Well, this is a movie and they are playacting of course. This is a wonderful film and I took to it immediately. This is a European film through and through and all that implies. It’s people talking about life on a level that I’d like to think is not so out of the ordinary – but I’m probably kidding myself.
Fair warning: this is not an action flick! Talk, talk, talk. Loved it!