Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Araf - Somewhere in Between(Limbo) (2012) New York Film festival

This is the story of a young woman, Zehra, who works at a truck stop along a highway in Turkey.  One of her co-workers, Olgun, loves her madly, but she isn't really interested.  Meeting a trucker at the wedding of a friend  she finds she has met a man who arouses her passions. After circling each other they crash together and set in motion a tragic chain of events.

An beautiful looking film, this is a film that finds beauty even in tragic events. Its a film that demands to be hung on your wall. I am in no doubt that the locations that are shown in the film never looked this lovely. Certainly a snow storm on a highway never has.

Equally amazing is the cast. Neslihan Ataguul who plays Zehra the young girl is incredible. She breaks your heart as she travels through her life. She also generates more heat than both Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams did together in Brian DePalma's Passion which is also screening at the NYFF.  Equally good is Baris Hachihan as the young man who loves ZehraYou understand his rage at being cheated upon, even though he was never together with the object of his affection.

The film contains some wonderful sequences, the illicit couple coupling is incredibly hot, The wedding sequence which rewrites the terms of dirty dancing, the winter driving sequences, and on and on.

Unfortunately the film doesn't complete hang together. The film is full of people who don't talk, and who don't communicate. Resentment grows all around (including in this member of the audience). There is no wonder that the course of events run as they do, with no one talking or trying to communicate. Sadly, so much is unsaid in the film that there are frequent times where I had no idea what was going on. Why does the trucker have an earring from Zehra? I don't know. Why is there a sequence where a dog is poisoned*? No clue. We jump through time and frequently it takes a few minutes to figure out where we are, and occasionally we don't know why.

I kind of liked the film and I kind of didn't. For a while it kind of seemed to be building to something but when it  finally got to the end of the film I was left wondering why I was being told the story. I don't know. I couldn't see the point other than to show case the actors and the landscape.

I do know that there are things that we weren't shown. Questions at the press conference had the director referring to things we never see. Not a good sign. I'll work with you with a movie but do not talk to me of things that happen off screen when explaining the whys and hows of the plot. (One of my biggest pet peeves is a film that is all in the notes and not on the screen.).

This was a long 124 minutes, I thought something happened about an hour in and instead it was early on, there was still 90 minutes to go....  If you must know the film had one of the highest number of times that I wanted to check my watch while watching any movie.

*- (spoilers ahead) It should be noted that the poisoning sequence is one of several instances where the film veers off into a kind of graphic horror. From the slow agonizing death of the dog, to a beating , and a graphic bathroom miscarriage the film is intent on showing us the occasional unpleasant thing.

I mention this because each sequence produced a noticeable reaction in the audience, with the miscarriage resulting in a long discussion about whether to it should have been done that way since it effectively stopped the narrative and made post film discussions about that one sequence, particularly whether you can talk about the film and not at least warn an audience about it. (You can since this note was added several days after seeing the film and writing it up without any mention. I may not have mentioned it but the frigging sequence has hung with me like a road accident hence this footnote)

If you are going in looking for a simple drama or coming of age tale be warned, there be dragons inside...

This plays October 4 and 13

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