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Milk (2008)

Süt (original title)
Yusuff has a hard time defining his adulthood. In one hand, there are his mother's expectations while on the other hand his passions.


Semih Kaplanoglu


Semih Kaplanoglu (screenplay), Orçun Köksal (screenplay)
6 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Melih Selcuk Melih Selcuk ... Yusuf
Basak Köklükaya ... Zehra
Riza Akin Riza Akin ... Ali Hoca
Saadet Aksoy ... Semra
Alev Uçarer Alev Uçarer ... Kemal
Serif Erol Serif Erol ... Istasyon Sefi
Orçun Köksal Orçun Köksal ... Erol
Sahra Özdag Sahra Özdag
Semra Kaplanoglu Semra Kaplanoglu
Tülin Özen ... Köylü Kizi
Tansu Biçer Tansu Biçer ... Postaci
Burcu Aksoy Burcu Aksoy


A high school graduate, Yusuf could not pass the university entrance exam. Writing poetry is his greatest passion and some of his poems are being printed in various obscure literary journals. But neither these poems, nor the rapidly falling price of the milk they sell, are being of any benefit to Yusuf and Zehra's lives. When Yusuf finds out about Zehra's secret affair with the town's stationmaster he gets disconcerted. Will he find the way to cope with his anxiety for the unknown future, the rapid change that he is going through and the pain of taking a step into adulthood and leaving his youth behind? Written by Venice Film Festival

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Release Date:

2 January 2009 (Turkey) See more »

Also Known As:

Leche See more »

Filming Locations:

Tire, Izmir, Turkey See more »

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Followed by Honey (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

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This film is about a sensitive young man called Yusuf (Melih Selcuk), who is resistant to the harsh realities of becoming a man in modern Turkey, preferring instead his rustic ideal of living from the land with his mother. I seem to remember Joseph Heller writing in his novel Something Happened that we lose three quarters of who we are in the process of becoming an adult. Of course some people weren't ever really individuals in the first case, and on the other hand some are particularly ill-suited to this Procrustean process. Yusuf is one of the latter. He's a solitary young man who writes poetry, reads books and wanders in the countryside. He's up for national service, which I believe generally comes at the age of twenty in Turkey. Apparently national service is seen as a very important institution by the Turkish, one can even be prosecuted for defaming it. So one might see it as a rite of passage. On the one hand someone of an artistic temperament may not be enthusiastic about joining the military, on the other missing out means being separated from the flock and a symbolic ascension(?) to adulthood. Yusuf fails the medical because he is epileptic. This is a cause of much anger within him. He's desperate to be a man, mostly in fact so that he can gain some respect from his mother, whom he adores. This is quite a crucial point, his mother loves him dearly, on the other hand she does not respect him.

There is also a difficulty in that his mother has met a man in town, an official. So she is growing away from her son and neglecting the farm work. I think Yusuf would like to live in a traditional manner, making money from the land with his mother, selling produce at market, and reading and writing poetry in his cosy study. One might suspect incestuous longings, however I think it's much more of a Platonic idolisation, after the fashion of Leonardo or Pasolini.

Yusuf is quite good at poetry, and has one of his poems published in Düsler Öyküler (a Turkish literary journal, literally Dreams Short Stories). It's actually about his mother, but she thinks it's about a local girl.

So what I haven't perhaps explained yet it that this is a drastically beautiful film, this phase in Yusuf's life is shown with a natural unmannered beauty. There is one scene where he is picked up by a local girl and they drive out to a secluded rural location, she is either receiving texts or phone calls on her mobile every half minute and so he doesn't get much of a look in. He walks into the ruins of a Turkish bathhouse and has a wander inside. We then see the girl's silhouette stroll along the skylight, it's a symbol of her unattainability. It's one of the most beautiful things I've seen in a while. Yusuf is not the sort you would see with a mobile phone, an idyll is what he's looking for, uninterrupted by ring-tones.

The film is clearly interested in the transition to adulthood, which is unforgiving, and in a small strand we have a friend of Yusuf's who is also a struggling poet, though not yet published, working as a miner (complete with poems stuffed under his shirt and day-glo hazard jacket. It's seemingly a huge violation to become an adult, that's my opinion any way. I value artistic representations of the sacredness of each individual and their imagination. In a quite brilliant shot we see this represented by the miner's light on the hard hat of the friend, approaching the camera. This theme of what it means to become an adult actually reminded me of the story of the young man Ismail from Ceylan's 2008 work Üç maymun (Three Monkeys).

It's probably best to explain why the title of the film is Milk! It has more than one meaning for sure, Yusuf and his mother have a couple of cows, and they attempt to make a living by selling the milk but also by making cheese and other milk-related delicacies, as well as fruit and vegetables. Milk is also obviously the nourishment provided to you by your mother. I think it's also enlarged here so that it also refers just to life itself, even in one scene we see an exorcism where the fumes of boiled milk are used. The exorcism is also a real one, you see an obviously supernatural event in the film. Which is unusual at the cinema unless you are watching a tongue-in-cheek horror film. It speaks bounds of the director's connection with traditions, the countryside and a mystical magic real existence.

I was thinking actually whilst watching this film that it could well be a type of "Antoine Doinel" type series. After reading about it I've found that's it's actually the second part in a trilogy about Yusuf's life.

By the by, Basak Köklükaya as the mother has a leonine immutable beauty that is quite inspiring, a perfect choice as a mother for Yusuf to idolise.

Semih Kaplanoglu, remember the name, this guy has got talent in abundance. Makes me feel like a human being again watching movies like this.

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