Turkey (2006) Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Isa (Nuri Bilge Ceylan) is a photographer and lecturer who pays little attention and shows even less affection towards his younger TV producer wife Bahan (Ebru Ceylan), driving her to strike out in a petulant manner. They agree to separate and while Bahan moves on Isa seems lost.
An interesting and fertile premise but director and star Ceylan has somehow struck upon the “less is less” model for this film. The message comes across loud and clear and much of the angst and ponderings of the two leads comes across quite efficiently through a tortured look or sullen expression.
But when these moments hang around on the screen for at least a minute longer than is necessary we are left with very slow moving film. Even those with high patience limits may find this a drag although when the pace picks up and the actual story is given attention over the admittedly gorgeous looking images (Ceylan’s first film shot in HD), we have something with huge potential.
Isa is deeply dislikeable and thus the viewer is practically willing Bahan or someone else to slap him. Even when he very clumsily tries to seduce his former mistress Serap (Nazan Kırılmış) leading to an equally clumsy rape scene there is no room for pity. He eventually follows Bahan to the snowy landscape of Ağrı, eastern Turkey to win Bahan back but has he changed?
At this point it is likely that very few viewers will be left but you reap what you sow since Ceylan’s slow poetic style is not one for the masses. A bit of a lift in the pace department and some fleshing out of his characters would have made this a more tolerable experience. Even at 96 minutes this felt longer.
A wasted opportunity to deliver something more poignant instead we get a shallow and self indulgent outing.