Abbas Kiarostami's first feature film made outside of Iran playfully asks questions about art, life and love; originality and imitation; and the alchemy of cross-cultural understanding (or misunderstanding). British intellectual James (opera singer and first-time actor William Shimell) meets French shopkeeper Elle (Juliette Binoche, who won the Best Actress award at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival for this performance) after he gives a reading in a Tuscan town. Walking and talking their way through the beautiful surroundings, the pair begin to playact as lovers, a charade they carry to surprisingly great lengths. The fact that the movie explicitly recalls Roberto Rossellini's JOURNEY TO ITALY is entirely intentional, as may be the dramatic and cinematic resemblances to IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, BRIEF ENCOUNTER, BEFORE SUNSET, Kiarostami's own films and any number of other antecedents. This fun and thought-provoking romp speaks to the promise of renewal and reinvention, even as it claims to have nothing new to say. DIR/SCR/PROD Abbas Kiarostami, PROD Angelo Barbagallo, Charles Gillibert, Marin Karmitz, Nathanaël Karmitz. France/Italy/Belgium/Iran, 2010, color, 106 min. In English, French and Italian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
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