Tuesday 23 March 2010

Uzak (Distant) [2002]

Directed by Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Uzak is an astounding piece of arthouse cinema that has the ability to keep its viewers in a state of daze long after the end credits have rolled. The basic premise is ridiculously simple – the heavily structured life of a freelance photographer residing in Istanbul, Yusuf, gets thrown off balance upon the arrival of his rustic cousin, Mahmut, in search of employment at the docks at the roll of an economic downturn in Turkey. What the premise fails to reveal is that this is a devastatingly affecting look into the severe loneliness of the two protagonists and their futile attempts at trying to make human contact, be it with his divorced wife, in Yusuf’s case, or with the aloof Yusuf and a young girl who has caught his eyes, in the genial Mahmut’s case. The interactions between the two taciturn characters have been brought forth through subtle, carefully placed observations. The tale of the two jaded and detached characters, the languorous pacing of the narrative, and the long moments of silence and inaction, might be off-putting for some viewers; I, on the contrary, was left speechless by the existential script, the powerful statement on the complexities surrounding otherwise banal existences, the underlying pathos that peeks out only once in a while amid the dry humour, and the incredibly naturalistic performances by the two actors. And the ravishingly beautiful images of the cold, icy and desolate landscapes form the most ironic metaphor for the equally bleak, albeit splendid, human story that unfolds before it.

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Genre: Drama/Urban Drama/Psychological Drama
Language: Turkish
Country: Turkey

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