The wedding night of an arranged marriage between a beautiful young girl and a middle-aged man reaches a shattering conclusion. Unforgettable cinema with two brilliant performances at its heart.
Turkey, 2012. Language: Turkish. 92 minutes. Cert: CLUB. Director: Reis Çelik. Starring: lyas Salman, Dilan Aksüt, May eker Yücel, Sabri Tutal, Sercan Demirkaya, Ahmet Nuri Aydın
The title is a misnomer. When a lovely young girl is married off to a pockmarked middle-aged man, she – with a nod to 1,001 Nights heroine Scheherazade – changes the subject and pouts and does everything she can to delay consummation.
Reis Çelik’s sad, lovely standoff (a Crystal Bear winner at Berlin) starts out with the sublime tableaux and stately pacing we’ve come to expect of the Anatolian’s oeuvre before retreating into the bedroom for a claustrophobic two-step. First-person shots add to the sense that the bridal chamber is merely a prettified tomb. Recited tales – one mythical and one historical – remind us that the likelihood of the girl ever seeing her family again rests somewhere close to zero.
This is a political union. The groom repeatedly dismisses the gunfire outside as stag- party japes, yet as he does so, he reaches for a pistol.
Slyly, both lens and narrative shift allegiances to reveal that the marriage is just as prescriptive for the groom. A final impassioned monologue – “What I am except for a clown?” – heralds an unexpected denouement. – Tara Brady, The Irish Times
Winner – Crystal Bear, Berlin Film Festival 2012