Monday, December 06, 2010

NY Turkish Film Festival ’10: Love in Another Language

Zeynep is hot. Onur is deaf. When they meet, the chick flick can begin in earnest. That said, director Ilksen Basarir deserves credit for not sugar-coating their rocky relationship in Love in Another Language (trailer here), which screens this Saturday during the 12th New York Turkish Film Festival.

Onur is a wizard at web design, but he is resigned to his underemployment at the city library. Zeynep is even less satisfied with her call center work, especially considering her ex Aras is the boss of the boiler room, a de-motivator who would not be out of place in either version of the Office sitcom. When they meet at the engagement party of mutual friends, she assumes he is the strong, silent type. When she has the truth gently explained to her, they still hook up, but she bolts like lightning afterward.

However, something about the sensitive lug pulls her back and they eventual pursue a legit relationship. It is not easy though. Expecting her to disappear again at a moment’s notice, Onur is always on edge. Meanwhile, Zeynep must deal with the fallout from her attempts to unionize her workplace as well as her friends’ boorish dismissal of Onur as b.f. material. It is going to be a bumpy ride.

Language eschews easy sentiment, unflinchingly focusing on Onur’s socialization issues. Frankly, they might over do it. Not that it has played in New York, but the Taiwanese Hear Me addresses similar issues, but with a lighter touch and ridiculous cute cast (they are like human Hello Kitty characters). In contrast, Language somewhat overplays Onur’s panic attacks, to use a polite term.

Saadet Aksoy has real screen presence as Zeynep. However, the convulsive flights of Mert Firat’s Onur become increasingly problematic. Allowing Zeynep to see him so out of control seems to be embarrassingly out of character. Still, it is a well put together package. Cinematographer Hayk Kirakosyan gives it a high gloss polish and the electro-ambient score composed by Ugur Akyurek and Erdem Yoruk should appeal to its twenty-thirty demographic.

Featuring an attractive young cast, Language is unquestionably an example of popular Turkish cinema. Well intentioned melodrama, it screens this Saturday (12/11) as the New York Turkish Film Festival continues at the SVA Theater.