Movie Review: Bliss (Mutluluk)
Alternate Title: Tradition Meets Modernity
Story: The first luscious five minutes of the film will transport you to another time and place. That is both the good news and the bad news for our lovely young, heroine, Meryem. The landscape we encounter is visually ravishing. In the midst of all of this beauty we see an unconscious young woman. She has been raped and left for dead. She lives in a remote part of Turkey that might as well exist in the 9th century (near the Kurdish border). As far as the town elders are concerned she is ruined, has sinned, is tarnished and needs to die. The film is based on the novel Mutluluk by Zulfu Livaneli and masterfully directed by Abdullah Oguz and written for the screen by Kubilay Tuncer, Elif Ayan and Mr. Oguz.
The decision to have Mereyem taken to Istanbul and 'taken care of' by a returning war hero changes the course of the film. It emerges as a slow growing love story and an emotional self-awareness journey for our young girl. The clash of traditional and modern cultures meet head on and we are richer for the experience.
It is a heart warming, thoughtful, provocative piece of film making that takes on the centuries old horrifying tradition of patriarchal misogyny. I urge you to see it.
Check out the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnEMhcaLTuM
Acting: Ozgu Namal as Meryem was sensational. She is a terrific screen presence. She is also a well known model in Turkey. Talat Bulut as Irfun the soldier was also well cast. Murat Han as Cemal, the yachtsman was great. The rest of the cast was terrific too including: Mustafa Avkiran (Ali Riza), Emin Gursoy (Tahsin), Sebnem Kostem (Done), Meral Cetinkaya (Munevver) and Erol Babaoglu (Yakup).
Trivia: Abdullah Oguz the director said: “When I read the book Bliss, I wanted to see the story on the silver screen. The film proceeds along the axis of a journey that brings together both modern and traditional aspects of Turkey. It tells the moving and hard-hitting story of three people, Cemal, Meryem and Irfan, who all come from different cultures. We shot Bliss in a series of stunning landscapes from the easternmost to the westernmost points of Turkey, a backdrop that underlines the poignancy of the story”. Awards for this film thus far: * Golden Orange Film Festival, Antalya, Turkey (2007): Best Actor (Murat Han), Best Actress (Özgü Namal), Best Make-Up, Best Music, Best Sound Design * Kerala International Film Festival, India (2007): Special Jury Prize * Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival, France (2007): Audience Award
Critters: Sheep, goats, birds, and a funny scene with fish.
Food: The abovementioned fish.
Sex Spectrum: None. The rape is not shown on the screen.
Soundtrack: The wonderful music by Zulfu Livaneli who also wrote the novel.Ömer Zülfü Livaneli is a popular Turkish folk musician (singer and composer), a novelist, newspaper columnist and a film director who has been highly popular for decades. He is also a prominent left-wing and social-democrat politician and was a member of the Turkish parliament for one term.
Visual Art: The beauty of the film cannot go without mention. Kudos to cinematographer Mirsad Herovic for some unforgettable images.
Theater Audience: About 15 mesmerized people.
Weather: Hot and sunny
Sappy Factor: 0
Quirky Meter: 0
Squirm Scale: Rape and misogyny is very squirmy.
Drift Factor: I was rapt.
Predictability Level: High
Tissue Usage: 0
Oscar Worthy: Yes
Big Screen or Rental: The big screen would be the way to go if you can find it in your City.
Length: Under two hours.
LOBO HOWLS: 9