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Review: Uzak (2002)

Directed by: | 110 minutes | | Actors: , , , , Feridun Koç, ,

Ceylan immediately introduces the two main characters, with the arrival of cousin Yusuf and the lifestyle of his uncle Mahmut. Yusuf comes to town because the factory in his village has fired everyone including him and his father. He has no training, but still thinks he can find a great job on the deep sea.

Mahmut would rather see him go than come and do nothing to help him. Especially as the days go by his irritation increases; the light in the hallway, an open balcony door and cigarette ashes on the floor become a great irritation. If one day he can’t find his silver pocket watch, he doesn’t hide his distrust of Yusuf. In regaining it, pride and stubbornness prevented Mahmut from reestablishing the conflicted relationship.

Not only has his interest in art faded, but interest in his fellow man is also limited. The only person he still has sympathetic feelings for is his ex-wife Nazan, who is now married again to another man. Their lives also lack happiness due to the absence of children, as a result of an abortion that she had performed at Mahmut’s insistence. When Nazan and her husband leave for Canada and Mahmut without showing up, letting her know what he still feels for her, seeing them get on a plane, his last chance at happiness is gone. When he got home, he notices that his cousin has left. He’s really left all alone now, alienated from life, far from everyone and everything he ever believed in. Even his mistress has left him.

Beautiful connections between the scenes, from the house of Mahmut’s mother, where he watches TV, to Mahmut’s living room where his cousin now watches the same program on one of the colossal wide-screen televisions. And from the flash of the photo in the square, to the men standing still praying in the mosque.

The conclusion from the first link is clear; Yusuf goes the same way as his uncle. A lot of smoking, no entrepreneurial strength, no chance with the women he really likes and a limited interest in the models on TV. His situation in Istanbul becomes more and more hopeless as the story progresses; he takes less good care of himself and actually no longer looks for work. The turning point, however, is his view of the rooftops of the Istanbul suburb, where a construction worker or mechanic balances precariously on the roof to do his job.

The perspective varies; then again you look through the eyes of Mahmut or Yusuf, then again from the camera, at a fantastic landscape of which they are only a small part. It enhances the feeling of impermanence and the lonely and hopeless existence. During Yusuf’s walk through the you see what he misses; the pleasure of others.

The sound is almost fully functional; sounds such as footsteps in the snow, a motorway, that you hear before you see it, and subtle tones that just highlight an object or event, important. The only ‘real’ you will hear, apart from the music in the café, is part of Mozart’s Synfonia concertante.

All in all, ‘Uzak’ is an impressive and moving , in which both male protagonists convincingly portray the development of their characters. The atmosphere is predominantly melancholic with here and there points of light and comical moments. At the Cannes Festival, Nuri Bilge Ceylan was awarded the Grand Jury Prize for Uzak. Muzaffer Özdemir and Mehmet Emin Toprak received a shared actor award. Well deserved!

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