Disclaimer: This post contains so, so many spoilers, and it probably won’t make a shred of sense unless you’ve seen both Certified Copy and Vertigo.
Some films are riddles -- puzzles waiting to be put together, codes waiting to be cracked, jokes waiting for a punch line.
At their core, riddle-films are cinematic questions -- ones that require viewers to come up with answers on their own. Films like Mulholland Drive, Last Year at Marienbad, and even gimmicky blockbusters like Inception may seem indecipherable on first viewing, but they’re not total enigmas. Those willing to do the painstaking, obsessive detective work these films demand will find clues for deciphering the films’ central mysteries. There’s a lot of heavy interpretive lifting involved, but never without some kind of pay-off.
In this sense, Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy is a textbook riddle-film.