Sunday, December 2, 2018

Literary Cinema

The Wild Pear Tree (2018) - Ceylan
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The Wild Pear Tree is yet another Nuri Bilge Ceylan's leisurely paced, literary filmic experience. Just like his other films, it starts out slowly- kind of middling and you don't know where it's going exactly. It's basically a post-college blues movie where the young protagonist is excessively downtrodden and cynical. It has some ceylan-ian showstoppers in beautiful rural Turkey setting here and there, visually speaking. And as always, just like a dense, good book, the film has rich characters and delicious philosophical musings.

Sinan (Dogu Demirkol), who just graduated from college wanting to be a writer just came back home to his parents in small rural town. He has some decisions to make - does he get some silly job in town or does he go to mandatory military service and forego entering the adulthood a little bit longer. His school teacher father Idris (Murat Cemcir) is squandering all the money on gambling, and digging a well where the water never comes, while annoying everyone around him.

A showstopper comes early with Hatice (Hazar Ergüçlü), Sinan's highschool sweetheart, not sure about her impending marriage which will surely guarantee a safe but boring life. They converse under a leaves-turning tree and share a forbidden kiss and it's stunning.

There are two very lengthy conversation scenes that shows Sinan's world view - one with him confronting a successful local author at a bookstore. Half jealous and half resentful, he questions the author's legitimacy of success. The other one is his talks with two young imams about the religion's place in the modern world. Obviously, the young man could do without faith.

Balancing petty earthly matters (his family dynamics) and the philosophical musings, The Wild Pear Tree plays out like a thick Russian novel. Cemcir deserves an award for his portrayal as a dreamer and a gambler whose self deprecating humor and otherworldly wisdom is right out of a Dostoevsky novel.

The Wild Pear Tree is that rare film that captures the trial and tribulations of a young person who is intelligent enough to be both self aware and pessimistic. His disdain for his father hides his own disenchantment about the dim future prospects. The film's title, also the title of Sinan's book which is supposed to be an honest observation of humanity, filled with colorful characters, not a travel brochure, and unironically, that's what you watching the film. Definitely one of the year's best.

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