Won best screenplay at Cannes, nominated for the golden palm. I was startled to recognize the lead guy from Werckmeister Harmonies as the German bookshop owner. Didn’t notice that his aunt Tunde in Werckmeister played Mrs. Straub, through I knew she looked familiar so I should’ve figured that out.
Well shot, edited, scored, etc., with no real attention-grabbing technical aspects. VERY well written and acted – focus here is on story and character. One of those interweaving-narratives things, but not annoyingly so. Emotional human story, multilayered, examining freedom and moral decisions and parent/child relationships, but subtly. When Ayten is spit upon by her former comrades as she abandons their cause in prison to go home with her girlfriend’s mother, there’s just that moment to think about later, not a whole conversation about the relative importance of family, love, freedom and politics. It’s a moral tale.
Prostitute Yeter Öztürk is estranged mother to young rebel Ayten. Ali Aksu is father to German professor Nejat. Susanne Staub is mother to student Lotte. The parents are all widow(er)s, the kids all unattached, until Ayten, in hiding after a political rally gone bad, stays with Lotte and they fall in love. Ali “rescues” Yeter from her prostitute life, but later he drunkenly strikes her, she dies and he goes to prison. Nejat disowns his father and moves from Germany back to Turkey, settling in Istanbul to find Ayten, tell her about her mother’s death and offer to fund her studies. Those two never connect, even though Lotte (and eventually her mother) stays with Nejat. All of the characters end up staying with each other, and not counting Ali’s attempted ownership of Yeter, it’s all out of love, compassion, generosity. Ali is the worst of the six, but he’s not a monster, and the film ends with Nejat (and us) going to Ali’s hometown to reconcile with him as Lotte’s mother Susanne works on forming a bond with her murdered daughter’s lover Ayten. Ayten is abandoning her rebel cause, which has good values at heart but also had an obsession with guns and violent protest that indirectly led to Lotte’s death, so you feel that Ayten is doing the better, more human thing by leaving, that by living her life (with or without new mother-figure Susanne) and holding onto her values she can do far more good than she could imprisoned in solidarity. Ends on such a spiritual high that it made my face hurt from wanting to cry. A beautiful movie, rivaling Paranoid Park as the best thing I’ve seen in theaters this year.