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The child's bogeyman – the one who steals away children – is a terror we all know about. But as we grow, we learn the truth about the myth. In this downbeat yet engaging story, two young siblings – older brother, Ahmet (Mehmet Bulbul), younger sister, Ayse (Elif Bulbul) – discover that the bogeyman also comes in a familiar guise...
Set in an Anatolian village of Turkey, the story centers upon the two children caught in a familial vise: their mother is dead, their father has left them for a new wife who rejects them, their grandfather is barely able to care for them, and their aunt in Germany is having difficulties is arranging immigration for them to live with her. And looming over the hapless children, as the story opens, is the prospect of being sent off to an orphanage sometime soon.
Slow pacing, excellent photography, faultless acting and simple dialog allow the receptive viewer to fully appreciate the heartbreaking horror of shattered childhood needs that are all too easily compromised by adults who just can't or won't cope. Sure, this type of story has been done before: Oliver Twist (1948 et al), perhaps, being the most well-known example of abused childhood.
But this story doesn't have the twists and turns of grandiose narrative. Instead, the camera, up close and personal, constantly fixes upon and searches the faces of the protagonists as they try to, and do accommodate their daily, simple, emotional abuses; and significantly, there is no comedic relief in the entire story. Throughout, brother and sister find comfort with each other in a series of unforgettable vignettes, all of which flesh out their characters and demonstrate their mutual dependency. Understandably then, we are perhaps reminded of our own childhood losses and disappointments, especially as the closing sequence fades into our memory. Only the hardest of hearts will shrug, shift gears, and then turn away.
The director, Atalay Tasdiken, has written and directed a well-crafted movie; his style reminds me of Nuri Ceylan (Distant, Climates, Three Monkeys etc), who is a master of minimal talk and maximum camera. The child actors are just perfect, while the other players provide exemplary support. The sound track is barely noticeable, even when it is present. For some viewers, though, the pacing will seem sluggish at times.
As the credits roll, there is a statement that the story is based upon true events. I don't doubt that for one moment.
Give this one eight out of ten. Recommended for all.
July 25, 2012
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