This is an extremely creatively made film about a couple’s failing relationship which contains a scene that I found extremely maddening that really under cut the entire rest of the film for me.
So first off, Ceylan has “the eye”, the ability to come up with incredible shots which others can’t, which really elevate a film. This film is just full of endless really clever or interesting and unconventional shots (and some cuts, too) which make the film kind of a delight to watch from a filmmaking perspective. So much thought was put into the composition of the shots and it’s just a really excellently shot film. I wanted to love it.
Also, the sound design: it’s also well-done and thoughtful. Many times ambient noise is elevated to film the film’s (many) pauses in conversation and, though it’s perhaps unnatural, it gives the film a really distinct (but subtle) audio component to go along with its visual inventiveness.
And now, for my big problem:
When I was younger, I had a very high tolerance of well-done rape scenes. If you look through my reviews you will find me acclaiming more than one movie with a really uncomfortable rape scene in it. I would have told you something along the lines of “depicting is not condoning” and “rape is a reality of human life and we shouldn’t shy away from it” or whatever. I would have justified them possibly even regardless of context.
But people change and, frankly, I’ve grown up. Yes, depicting is not condoning. And, yes, rape is an unfortunate reality of human life; men have been raping women since humans existed.
But the “rape scene as a way of demonstrating male psychological torment” has long been a cliche and a rather lazy way of saying your protagonist is “troubled.” (This has been a tactic since at least the early ’70s in English-language films and longer in European movies.) Usually there is little thought for the female character or her pain.
And I’m sorry to say that this film has one of those scenes. The protagonist rapes a woman who he has previously had an affair with. Then, inexplicably, she invites him over again and he then refuses to have sex with her because she is now willing. Sure, this tells us plenty about the asshole protagonist.
But, as with basically any movie with one of these scenes in it (certainly any movie made by a man) there is basically no consideration for the female character, her pain, her feelings, her motivations. She is a prop to show us that the man is “troubled.” It’s lazy and, at this point, it’s getting kind of irresponsible. Now, this film was made 14 years ago, so there should be some consideration for that, but it was already a cliche back then.
I don’t understand why this film needs that scene to tell its story. I think this film without that scene is a better film – he can still lie about having sex with her, or even just speaking to her. He’s still not changed, the point is still made.
But, excepting that scene, this is a pretty exceptional film.