A Love Story with a patently Eastern European Twist
This is a story about a young, soon-to-be married Turkish tourist, Cemal, and a beautiful, troubled yet graceful prostitute, Sasha, trying to make the difficulties of their life mesh with their dreams of finding love. It is a Moulin Rouge-esque romantic comedy set in a cold and bitter Kiev, Ukraine.
The two meet in a star-crossed nightclub on the evening of Cemal's bachelor party. Cemal, dragged by his Uncle and brother to the brothels of Kiev to learn the 'ways of women', is caught up in Sasha's beauty as she stands out in the night club against the run-of-the-mill girls on the floor. Cemal pays the usual fee to follow her home at the encouragement of his uncle and begins a series of unforseen events which draws the two lovers together. Though the rest of the people in their lives doubt their relationship, Cemal and Sasha try desperately to discover if their love can exist despite extremely long odds.
The movie has significant social and political undertones that reflect the realities of life in Ukraine. This is a rare Ukranian/Turkish movie where the city of Kiev is presented through monuments and scenes with iconic thoroughfares and statues. Shots include common streets and people who, in the past, have been censored from Ukranian films due to their reception to Russian audiences. In this way, the movie challenges post-colonial prejudices.
The movie incorporates many different languages well while keeping the action moving along. Naturally, Cemal the Turkish tourist, and Sasha the Ukranian prostitute, speak different languages. Additionally, Sasha alternates between Ukranian and Russian in order to reflect the post-colonial realities of her homeland. The two can roughly translate between eachother with a few choice English words. "Help", "stay", "love".
The action of the movie keeps a quick pace and the nature of their relationship seems more authentic than many Hollywood movies of the same genre. Emotions run high as Cemal's chivalrous nature clashes with the cold reservations of Sasha's complicated life. Frequently, arguments divulge into violence as the desperation of balancing life, money, and dignity come to a head. In this way, I felt a deeper connection to the movie for addressing hard truths, and was more impressed with the film's project for reflecting difficult themes.
This is an ambitious and well executed Ukrainian film project. I highly recommend this film to those who are interested in a romantic comedy which develops in a patently western-European manner. The deliberate dialogue, dark setting, and overt dedication from the main characters make this move an icon of foreign film in the recent decade.
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