Wednesday, May 9, 2012

966. UZAK (2002)

Running Time: 105 minutes
Directed By: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Written By: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Main Cast: Muzaffer Ozdemir, Emin Toprak, Zuhal Gencer, Nazan Kirilmis, Feridun Koc
Click here to view the trailer


As the rain drizzled outside my bedroom window this morning and I enjoyed a lazy day off in bed, I decided to take to the streaming portion of Netflix and check out the 2002 Turkish film "Uzak" or "Distant".

Mahmut (Ozdemir) is a photographer living in Istanbul. He lives alone and enjoys his peace & quiet, living a simple life with little to no excitement. He doesn't answer his telephone and would rather not be disturbed by the outside world. In fact, an interesting scene shows Mahmut listening to his answering machine, as his sister informs him of their mother's hospitalization; Mahmut doesn't react at all. In the beginning of the film, Mahmut is joined by Yusuf (Toprak), a relative of Mahmut's who comes to stay with him after he loses his job. Yusuf wants to get a job as a ship worker in the city and be able to send money to his family back home. He stays in Yusuf's guest room, a blanket thrown on the floor and a sleeping bag, an indication that Mahmut did not intend or want to have guests. Yusuf doesn't try very hard to get work and as the weeks go by, Mahmut becomes agitated with him, keeping his feelings to himself but expressing his disdain for Yusuf through body language and less than enthusiastic attitude. A key scene shows Mahmut and Yusuf watching Tarkovsky's "Stalker" together. Yusuf gets tired and decides to head to bed and when he does Mahmut puts in a porno tape. Yusuf returns moments later, with Mahmut scrambling to hide what he'd been watching.

The plot is quite thin and at times, "Uzak" feels almost like a voyeuristic journey through the lives of these two men. As the viewer, there are numerous occasions where we are left to simply observe the characters doing very menial things, like watching television, sleeping or smoking cigarettes and making small talk. That's one of the things I liked about "Uzak", the fact that it wasn't in your face, but rather lulled listlessly, not stressing to get any points across, but simply allowing it's characters and mood to be and allowing us to be captivated by the simplicity of it all. Without researching it heavily, I think this may be my first Turkish film and the city of Istanbul was quite the photogenic location, providing the perfect mood and atmosphere for Ceylan's character driven story.

Of course, "Uzak" is a film that requires patience from it's viewers. It's not full of action or drama and the drama that is there isn't heavy. Everything about "Uzak" is much like the relationship between it's two main characters: distant, quiet and sometimes awkward. At times, you feel as though there wasn't much of a movie here at all, and perhaps Ceylan should've taken his idea back to the drawing board and added a few more elements, fleshed out his dialogue a little more or given us a little something more to chew on. But, then I got to thinking that it isn't really necessary for there to be more, as "Uzak" is fine the way it is. It isn't GREAT, but it does work. Just be patient!

RATING: 7/10  That's all there is to it folks. The hits just keep on coming in this 100 and while I don't think "Uzak" will have much of an impact on the TOP 20, it could always grow on me.


May 9, 2012  5:34pm
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