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September 11, 2010

Uzak (2002)
Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Actors: Muzzafer Ozdemir, Mehmet Emin Toprak, Zuhal Gencer

uzak.jpg (305×165)

Synopsis: Two cousins (Muzzafer Ozdemir and Mehmet Emin Toprak) are forced to spend time together during a wintry spell in Istanbul.

Review: Nuri Bilge Ceylan brings a breathtaking cinematographic vernacular to bear on this deceptively slight tale of distant relatives (one a world-weary, middle-aged photographer, the other his younger, unemployed country cousin) as they spend a week together in Istanbul. Ceylan’s painstaking photographic sensibility proves an absolute gem in mining to just the right level of acuteness, the internal crises afflicting these two vastly different men.

Ceylan references Tarkovsky openly in this film, and it is Tarkovsky’s very own cinematic doctrine of “sculpting in time” (deriving meaning not with the edit but through a sense of time or pressure in the shot) that is Ceylan’s clear inspiration for Uzak’s distinct tone. Arguably different from Tarkovsky though is that Ceylan uses the long-shot, natural sound and a sense of ‘infinity’ for comic effect or moments of minor character epiphany as much as for grand spiritual flourishes. By the time we reach Uzak’s final shot of the lonely photographer looking out over a bleak Istanbul skyline, Ceylan has almost managed to make his melancholic image speak and resonate beyond its two-dimensionality. (June 2007)

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