by Shlomo Schwartzberg
posted August 1, 2008 10:00 AM
Urban meets rural when two cousins reconnect in modern Istanbul in Nuri Bilge Ceylan's intelligent but dry Cannes award winner. Well-established photographer Mahmut (Muzaffer Ozdemir) leads a prosperous but lonely existence in the city. Enter his newly unemployed village cousin Yusuf (Mehmet Emin Toprak), who wants to sign up on board a ship and sail the world. Mahmut cautions him against false hopes but otherwise doesn't do much to help his cousin, nor does he really want him around. Yusuf, for his part, doesn't respect Mahmut's house rules and friction between the two men quickly comes to the fore. The irony is that both men are more alike than they will admit.
While the two leads richly deserved the Best Actor award they shared at Cannes (posthumously in the case of Toprak, who died tragically in a car accident just after the film's completion), director Nuri Bilge Ceylan fails to build on the emotional undercurrents present in the script. "Distant" actually lives up to its title; it's a muted, uninvolving film. Starring Muzaffer Ozdemir, Mehmet Emin Toprak and Zuhal Gencer. Directed, written and produced by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. A New Yorker release. Drama. Turkish-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 110 min