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Eve Dönüs (2006)
22 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
If all you ask is the Turkish film you intend to watch tonight be about something and unless exchanging glances with full screen speechless faces turns you on, HOME COMING (EVE DONUS) is clearly among your eligible choices.

The infamous 1980 coup d'état of Turkey is one of the least filmed subjects in Turkey. Only for having dealt with this unspoken atrocity, Omer UGUR deserves a good rating. All that happens to the main character is by no means fictional or an exceptional error and having this film produced by a Turkish team, is surely a step towards a better Turkey. Although I would love to have this film shot as stunningly as GARAGE OLIMPO of Marco BECHIS, I acknowledge the value of the attempt.

The script: The frantic "communist hunt" of the September 12 junta was not conducted in a refined manner: not only the army took everybody as a suspect, but many daily disputes among ordinary people ended up with reporting each other as communists as well. And what was worse than this was that, all informants were being taken seriously and providing misinformation was not penalised. The script demonstrates the chilling reality of the era and describes the shortcut to torture cells. It has been pertinent to the matter to base the script on a few months of an apolitical textile worker's life.

My analysis divides the script into 3 and names them as "before, during and after torture" parts. The "before torture" part, serving as character introduction and locale presentation also, is properly handled without any unconvincing or misrepresenting details. Ages, professions, friends of the main characters and the quarter the events take place, are successfully worked-out components. His landlord's persistent attempts to collect the unpaid rent and Mustafa, the hero, overlooking the old guy and underestimating the severity of the matter, was a well-chosen hint of the upcoming disaster - at least for all tenant Turks of the era. The downside of this part is its 28 minutes of approximate length, housing a lot of to-do-nothing-with scenes. A solid example is, the preceding scene of Mustafa cheating on his wife scene. "When was that cheating thing???" you say? Well, it is among the deleted scenes in the extras folder! This coincidentally initiated chatting that starts at 9:30 of the DVD timer and ends at 10:17, is incomplete and therefore should have been found in the deleted scenes section which itself needs another deletion as a whole. Also the frequently occurring discussion between Mustafa and Esma about their sexual activities' frequency is another discrepancy that has no contribution to a political movie. UGUR probably inserted the recurring Mustafa-wanting-Esma-refusing conflict along with a "Mustafa chasing Esma in a jerry-built house" thrill, in order not to neglect the eroticism aspect. To my opinion, a more suitable destination for the whole idea is the recycle bin.

The night Mustafa is taken to the custody centre is where the film begins for me. A very realistic arrest ends up in a carefully selected basement. The reason why Mustafa is tortured is elegantly simple: He is mistaken with someone codenamed Sehmuz. The police were capable of making anyone confess any crime then, and this "during" part as I put, effectively demonstrates how. The way Mustafa befriends with Professor during custody days, the killing of real Sehmuz, the confrontation of Mustafa with a real anarchist, and finally his release, are all presented convincingly.

Final part, life after torture or "home coming", is also realistically handled. Fired characters, the loss of the home to come, reverberating voices, Mustafa's risky assignment of telling the Professor's family where Professor is, and the balance sheet of the September 12 junta that flows in the ending, were all spectacular. Mustafa's "home coming" part is a perfectly planned part, with no excess material.

The Cast: The lead actor Memet Ali ALABORA shines as the brightest star of the production whereas the lead actress Sibel KEKILLI forming the weakest link of the chain is a letdown. Perhaps, as a native Turkish speaker, I am posting a biased comment with too much emphasis on dialogues here, but cannot help acknowledge ALABORA's first-rate control of his voice and his success in conveying the fear. Given that the plot was not the immortal concept of Berliner Turks adapting to Berlin, I think this just is not KEKILLI's script. Her peasant accent with some German flavour is awkward the least to say for the daughter of those Istanbulite parents. Apart from a number of brightly performed instants thanks to her innate talent in desperate screams, there are more than a few scenes in which more relevant performance than flirtatiously smiling would work better. (I guess the lead actress could tolerate some compromise in the beauty axis in return for a little gain in the suitability axis, but Miss Orange folks evidently disregarded the latter axis.) The torture team has also a vital role and the captain Civan Canova might be particularly brilliant if this detail was overcome: they are not scary at all. Again the issue of wording and dialect! Any Turk knows the police cannot speak such a good Turkish with no grammar mistakes and this is the reason why Canova continuously reminds this is only a film. Esma's parents are doing their part perfectly. Perhaps the landlord and the water-cannoned anarchist guy had minor roles, but the two were so gorgeous that, not mentioning their contributions would be a gross negligence.

Setting and props: I cannot detect any major mismatches with the era and the notion of the film. One erroneous feature may be too dirt-free an environment, such as extraordinarily clean streets or excellent-looking props like that sparkling red Anadol taxi taking Mustafa to his father-in-law's home.

This film fills a gap.

Written by: Armagan TEKDONER
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