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Humble and introvert Muharrem lives in a solitary and meager existence of a prayer and sexual abstinence adhering strictly to the most severe Islamic doctrines.His extraordinary devotion attracts the attention of the leader of a rich and powerful Istanbul religious group and he offers him an administrative post as a rent collector for their numerous properties. Muharrem's new job throws him into the modern outside world he has successfully avoided for so long. He soon witnesses conflict attitude toward alcohol consumption and goodwill.He notices that he himself has become proud, domineering and even dishonest.To make matters worse, Muharrem's inner peace is unnerved by the tormenting image of seductive woman who tempts him in his dreams,both night and day.With the balance of his devotion now upset,his fear of God begins to eat away at his senses.Written by
Turkey's Official Submission to the Best Foreign Language Film Category of the 80th Annual Academy Awards (2008). See more »
Can there be true righteousness in the absence of temptation...
... seems to be the question at the heart of this Turkish film about a simple man living a simple life until his world is turned upside down when he is suddenly exposed to the modern world in the service of his religion. Muharrem is at the center of this character study. He is a very nondescript looking man of about 40 who has been in the service of sack dealer Ali Bey and his family since childhood. He is called an apprentice, but he acts basically as a stock boy and runner of errands. He has been stuck at this point since he was a child with no hope of being more than he is, and he seems fine with that. He lives a simple life in simple quarters and rigidly adheres to his religious sect's rules without question.
What changes everything is when the leader of his religious sect selects Muhareem to be the organizer of finances for the group. With absolutely no training in this area and no prior exposure to the modern world and culture, he is thrust into a position of authority wandering about town collecting the sect's rents. When he is handed a cell phone to call Rauf - his superior and adviser - in case he has questions during his rounds, he looks as though he has been handed a piece of biomedical equipment that he must somehow assemble.
Muhareem finds himself morally challenged and psychologically troubled when he is exposed for the first time to power, money, and sex. The power comes in the form of regard that he's never had before from people who have previously treated him as though he was invisible. His new sexual temptations come in the form of things as simple as having to walk past a long line of female mannequins dressed in lingerie on his way to collect some rent moneys. Muhareem has never seen such sights before, and soon he is having disturbing dreams. Also, he begins to see an equally troubling change in his own personality that seems to be required for him to do his new job correctly, but goes against the grain of all he has ever believed to be righteous.
This film is set in Turkey and the sect in question is the Sufi branch of Islam, but it could easily be set anywhere in the world and involve any religion - the themes are universal. Highly recommended.
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