success on the festival circuit, this film is a documentary
film with a realistic thread running through it. Telling three
different stories without them entwining - a couple with social
aspirations of moving to a bigger flat, a rose seller on said bridge in
Istanbul who would like a job but cannot for racial prejudice and a
young policeman who meets women online and then in person with
Asli Ozge's film, which she also wrote the screenplay for, features
real people playing themselves except for the policeman, Murat (Murat
Tokgoz) who is played by an actor due to a Turkish law that forbids
policeman playing themselves on screen. This strand is the most
fictional of the three, they have fun with his love of guns and his
fondness for the home town he has left behind for the big city but the
scenes when he is talking online to would be girlfriends, followed by
the two arranged meetings that are excruiating in their extreme. I
laughed loudest at the second time, as he has picked the same
rendez-vous point for the same letdown, you have the most sympathy for
this character - is it because he is a fictional creation of the norm,
or that he is so innocent in a rough world.
Fikrat, the rose seller, seeks employment and love but at every turn is
prejudiced by his race and lack of education. He does not help himself
when his sheer laziness is apparent when he does get a job in a cafe,
and his admission at the end that maybe rose selling is not all that
bad is indicative of a generational problem of work shyness, that is
apparent across all of Europe.
The final strand, is between a married couple Umut and Cemile Iker who
play themselves in an extension of their unhappy marriage. Umut is a
hard-working cabbie who shares a cab with a thug, but his wife Cemile a
part-time babysitter who has ideals of social elevation and moving to a
bigger flat. Umut knows they cannot afford it but Cemile insists.
Cemile's attempts at getting a job are blocked by her lack of computer
skills, her face as she listens to a woman explain what she needs to
do, is funny as the woman is talking very fast and Cemile's blank
expression shows how slow she is - she is overawed by this need to work
and work hard.
Cemile's inability to gain work and her nagging to Umut leads to a
rawness in their conversations that remind of Cassavetes work, and that
you are intruding on a very private row.
It is refreshing to see a film like this from a country that apart from
the work of 'Uzak' director, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, has no outreach on an
international level. Other smaller nations, like Portugal's Pedro Costa
have done the same mix of naturalism with a fictional undertone
creating this new wave of 'neorealism' across the European continent.
A steely eyed production with some wonderful photography of Istanbul
(like 'Biutiful' with Barcelona) shows you the non-postcard version of
a popular tourist destination and the use of main bridge is a brilliant
metaphor for a journey for the three main male characters. The end with
Murat on the phone to his Mum back home is a beautifully shot moment as
the sun is setting. The film may well be about men on the bridge, but
Istanbul is just as vital a character in this film.