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Rehash of Many of the Director's Trademark Visual and Sonic Techniques
BULANTI (NAUSEA) opens with a shot of academic Ahmet (Zeki Demirkubuz) walking out on the balcony of his well-appointed apartment, framed by a door. He is joined by his wife Elif (Nurhayat Demirkubuz) and their daughter, who are preparing to go on a bus journey. The action cuts to the two of them separated from Ahmet by the glass of the bus in which they travel, waving goodbye as the bus pulls out of the garage.
In this short sequence director Demirkubuz sums up several of the film's themes. The use of the door-frame suggests some kind of confinement, while the glass denotes separation between the characters. As the action unfolds, we understand how Ahmet is pathologically unable to relate to other people, even those closest to him; he is wrapped up in his narcissistic world.
Following the death of his wife and daughter in a accident, his life proceeds in a rapidly downward spiral. He has a couple of brief flings with two young girls Aslı (Öykü Karayel) and Özge (Cemre Ebuzziya); the first ends in total silence, the second in a violent climax where Ozge is assaulted by jealous boyfriend Selçuk (Kaan Turgut). Doomed to spend most of his life alone, his only source of solace is cleaning lady Neriman (Şebnem Hassanisoughi) who prepares his breakfast each day and saves him from complete self-immolation.
Ahöet's plight is effectively summed up through repeated visual images: the use of frames and bars across windows; the use of complex shots in which light at the center of the frame is flanked by darkness on both sides; and the frequent use of fade to black at the end of particular sequences. While working well in thematic terms, such techniques have been used quite frequently in Demirkubuz's earlier work: fans of his oeuvre might yearn for something different.
In sonic terms BALANTI is more adventurous, with the repeated use of ringing of a smart-phone - repeatedly left unanswered by Ahmet - drawing further attention to his isolation. There is also the "ding" of text messages, coupled with repeated banging on doors; none of these sounds, however disturbing they might be to audiences, appear to have any effect on Ahmet's psyche. It seems that he has become completely indifferent to the world around him.
In previous films Demirkubuz has been careful to situate the action in specific locations. This is not the case in BULANTI: we know it is a bourgeois area from the interior of the apartment and the blocks surrounding it, but we have no idea whether this is İstanbul, Ankara, or elsewhere. This is part of Demirkubuz's thematic point: Ahmet is so indifferent to life that he has little or no grasp of where he is.
In one sequence Ahmet is shown in hospital undergoing an MRI scan: we see an X-Ray of his heart from various views. This seems an appropriate visual metaphor for Ahmet's state of mind; he has become so devoid of emotion that his heart has quite literally become nothing more than an object for close analysis. Although the ending offers slight cause for optimism, with Ahmet undergoing a slight character-change, we still understand that the world he inhabits is a bleak one.
BULANTI is a difficult movie to watch, with long takes interspersed with the deliberate use of a black screen in which sound assumes more significance than sense. Not the best film Demirkubuz has made, but certainly a powerful one.
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