Director Ali Aydin‘s second feature is a psychological and dramatic thriller that uses an unconventional narrative structure to shed light on invisible stories.
Hakan (Birkan Sokullu) is an architect living in Istanbul, happily married to Nihal (Cemre Ebuzziya). The wealthy young couple wishes to have kids, but after a year of attempting artificial fertilization, Nihal informs her husband that their worst fears have been confirmed and that she cannot become pregnant. The same day Hakan, while with his friends, gets the impression of seeing Nihal. He starts following her, and from afar saw his wife with Cengiz (Tansu Bicer), a middle-aged stranger. That same evening, Hakan can’t find Nihal. The day after, Hakan heads to Cengiz asking where is his wife. The man insists that he doesn’t know where is Nihal, but their scuffle in the apartment attracts the attention of the neighbors, and inevitably the two find themselves in the police station. While Hakan is desperately looking for his wife, things start to get blurry.
The event casts a shadow over their marriage, things start to get confused. Hakan seems disoriented, disconcerted, and having doubts, which have now become his obsession. The story leads us into Hakan’s mind and his uncertainties that lead him to ask himself: “Who is the man with my wife?”, “How did I not understand that my wife had secrets?”. But in the development of the narrative, we discover the true nature of Hakan and the painful reality of his marriage. While he’s searching for his wife, Hakan faces his demons that have guarded and controlled their relationship.
Although the thriller mainly stages the psychological traits of the protagonists, the atmosphere is serene. The quiet in fact underlines more the drama since the subject of the movie is a contemporary problem that is often invisible. There are no intimidating or frightening moments during the action or development at the beginning that could worry about the spectator because everything apparently seems normal. What could be painful at the end of the film’s vision is, in fact, the absence of signs of an anomaly, which can lead the audience to reflect on how many times people can believe and think that things are happy, peaceful and instead some people around us could live with deep and strong dramas.
These are stories which are not frequently told and I found it politically and socially important” – Cemre Ebuzziya
From the outside, Hakan and Nihal appear as a young couple who potentially have their whole lives ahead to make their dreams come true. They are both educated and wealthy, but their dream life is an illusion. It’s complicated and problematic to talk about violence without telling a story that shapes stereotypes. Ali Aydin, who is both screenwriter and director, through his storytelling intertwines and manipulates the order of narration, shifting the attention of the public between space and time, unraveling the story and trying to help us understand the unfolding of the facts, not linearly.
The author doesn’t try to lead immediately to the thriller solution. Ali Aydin while not hiding any element, just as reality does, deceives the audience. If you don’t pay attention from the beginning, if you don’t observe every small detail or listen carefully, maybe things can seem different from what they really are. The narrative choice encourages us to look at the film with empathy. If viewers dive and look from the beginning, immediately putting themself in the psychological state of the protagonists, the key to the thriller is clear right away and many psychological messages appear more and more precise and direct.
The film, divided into two parts, drives viewers to question themselves what is seen before and compare it while watching the second half: the pieces begin to unite chronologically. This choice, which generates and adds dynamism to the film, allows the audience to get involved in the flow of narration with their own opinions and observations. In the first stage, feelings are on the surface, tension and nervousness are captured, while in the second section, the adaptation investigates into confusion to create order. The narrative changes to move from uncertainty to desolation when Hakan is shown as a cold and calculating man. His search of reality, once it has reached the viewers, is tragic and difficult to assimilate. Realizing to face appearance and not having perceived what really happened can upset and traumatized viewers. The film forces the audience to judge with their emotional dimension and at the same time to overcome prejudice.
Ali Aydin intertwines and manipulates the order of narration, shifting the attention of the public between space and time, unraveling the story and trying to help us understand the unfolding of the facts, not linearly.
The title of the film, however, is an indication that not everything is as it seems. Even in the opening sequence, one might be deceived about what is really going on. Aydin proposes elements that can confuse, mixes the details of the characters, and the facts in such a way that they are not what appears and he drives the viewers to question and ask themselves: What really happened? Who is the real offender?
But are these really the only questions the film is suggesting?
The film as it evolves is narrated as a puzzle and catapults the viewer into a social background where there are invisible scars. The central point of the story is the silences on the psychological and/or physical violence to which women are exposed. The pressures, tensions, and gender inequality in couple relationships that are independent of social wellness and positions. The problem is addressed without planning mystery and tension, but showing the silent.
In the couple’s relationship, there are problems that nobody sees, problems enclosed within their home walls. Even the time that is given to the narrative point of view to the two main protagonists, Nihal and Hakan, reflects the fact that female opinions are marginalized concerning male times and spaces. The narrative choice reaffirms the balance of society: disequilibrium! Man is dominant.
I wanted to tell the untold stories and reality of women and reflexes of men in Turkey” – Ali Aydın
Thanks to the work of Murat Tuncel, director of photography, the viewer is immersed in the sense of tension and deliberately disorientating discomfort, through every single detail of even the most ordinary framing angles. The film, which is almost without music, brings the musical sound element to mark its importance and weight thanks to the work of the sound design Clemens Endress.
Chronology world-premiered in Busan’s Flash Forward competition and further was screened at Warsaw FF 2019 Competition 1-2, IFFI GOA 2019 International Competition, Golden Rooster Film Festival, China – Panorama, 35th Santa Barbara IFF 2020 – International Competition, North American Premiere. The movie was awarded Cahide Sonku Award and Best Art Director Award at Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival.
Ciao! My name is Dominique. I’m Italian and I’m proud to be a mix. My father was an Italian chemical engineer and high school teacher, with Greek and Polish heritage. My mother is Haitian, she was high school language teacher, with Dominican, Spanish, French, Portuguese, African and Native American heritage. Being a mix makes me appreciate to want to understand different cultures and lifestyles. I grew up in Italy, lived few years in Haiti, travel around main European capitals, lived seven years in China, six in Spain and UK. Traveling makes me feel that we can learn something from every situation in every part of the world.