Wednesday, March 25, 2015

NYTFF ’15: Consequences

One problem with off-the-books building projects is they make it dashed difficult to come clean when trouble goes down. The same is doubly true of secret affairs. A hot shot real estate developer, his fiancée, and his somewhat estranged best friend will learn these truths first hand over the course of a long fateful night of the soul in Ozan Açiktan’s Consequences (trailer here), which screens during the 2015 New York Turkish Film Festival.

Cenk was once deeply involved with Ece, but he hasn’t seen her since his stints in rehab and trying to find himself in America. He thought he could handle seeing her again, but evidently not. She is now engaged to his old pal Faruk, who is putting up the architectural designer in a building he is illegally renovating in the gentrifying neighborhood of Karaköy. After an awkward meeting at Faruk’s party, Cenk beats a hasty retreat, but Ece soon follows. It does not take long for things to get hot and heavy, before they are inconveniently interrupted by a pair of intruders, who turn out to be two of Faruk’s undocumented laborers. One thing leads to another, resulting in the older man tumbling down the stairs and cracking his head.

To protect Ece, Cenk sends her off into the night, facing Faruk by himself. The developer and his lawyer Merve quickly take charge of the situation, hoping to minimize everyone’s exposure. It seems Faruk does not have the required permits or even a clear title to the property. Merve also smells something fishy about Cenk’s story, but she doesn’t have much time to worry about it. Unfortunately, the situation escalates precipitously when the man’s companion returns with about a dozen of his belligerent colleagues.

Açiktan and his co-writers, Cem Akas and Faruk Ozerton, do a nice job keeping one darned thing happening after another. Reportedly, the noir thriller is under-represented in Turkish cinema, especially those that are sexually charged to any extent, but they have crafted a distinctly stylish one. It is also rather intriguing to speculate about its beyond-the-screen meaning in an increasingly Islamist and less secular Turkey. On one hand, faithlessness holds potentially dire consequences, so to speak, for the characters. Yet, we sort of get the sense the film regrets Cenk and Ece were not able to get more sinning in before the situation started spiraling out of control. The film also resists class conscious interpretations, depicting the outraged workers in unflattering, thuggish terms.

Ilker Kaleli and Nehir Erdoğan are all kinds of angsty as Cenk and Ece, respectively, but Tardu Flordun really steals the show as the roguish Faruk. He might be insufferably arrogant and a corrupting influence on everyone around him, but it is hard to root against such a colorful figure. Likewise, Esra Bezen Bilgin matches him step for step as the shrewd and cynical Merve. It is nice to see a Turkish film that features a woman as its smartest character, by far.

Ahmet Sesigürgil’s noir cinematography looks terrific and Açiktan perfectly captures the sketchy urban after hours vibe. Everything about this film screams that it will end badly, but it is still entertaining watching matters plummet from bad to worse. Recommended for fans of assignations-gone-wrong thrillers in the Fatal Attraction tradition, Consequences screens this Saturday (3/28) at the SVA Theatre, as part of this year’s NY Turkish Film Festival.