This may be a three-hour 15-minute Turkish movie, but it's utterly riveting in the way it explores big issues through lively, edgy characters. The winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes, there isn't a dull moment in the film, which grapples cleverly with issues of justice and conscience in a fascinating rural setting. But the conversations could take place anywhere, and in the end, the film also becomes a witty, surprisingly moving exploration of how the growing gap between rich and poor is changing the world.
But it's always about the people, centring on middle-aged Aydin (Haluk Bilginer), who worked as a stage actor for 25 years before returning to central Anatolia to run the family's hotel, which like much of the local village is partially carved right into the rocks. Aydin lives with his intelligent young wife Nihal (Melisa Sozen) and his sardonic sister Necla (Demet Akbag), and has a faithful assistant in Hidayet (Ayberk Pekcan), but he has no idea that the villagers think of him as a wealthy land owner who sends his goons to harshly collect their back rent. Aydin discovers this when a young boy (Emirhan Doruktutan) throws a rock through his car window and he reluctantly begins an ongoing conversation with the boy's on-the-edge father (Nejat Isler) and far too smiley uncle (Serhat Mustafa Kilic), a local imam. But as Aydin tries to make sense of this, he opens Pandora's box with both his wife and sister.
All of these characters are utterly fascinating, real-life people with big personalities who speak their minds even when they probably shouldn't. At the centre, Bilginer is magnetic as Aydin, a likeably bullheaded man who simply can't see his own flaws (although everyone else sees them!). All of the performances are earthy and natural, which makes every encounter utterly riveting. When these people talk about the social changes taking place around them, it's easy to see these same issues in our own lives. When they argue about the morality of resisting an evil act, we think the answer is a no-brainer until the characters begin making sense in ways we never thought of before.
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