Friday, October 1, 2010

Yavuz Turgul - Gönül Yarasi aka Lovelorn (2005)

An ex-teacher finds his retirement far from relaxing when he returns to his family in Istanbul after a 15 year absence in this Turkish melodrama

Turkish director Yavuz Turgul made a name for himself and his national cinema in the mid-1990s when his bandit drama Eskiya drew an audience of millions in his home country and around the world. Nearly ten years later he has reunited with leading man Sener Sen on Gönül Yarasi, a traditional Turkish melodrama which charts the unexpected twists of fate that await a teacher returning home for his retirement.

After 15 years, Nazim (Sen) has left his job in a remote Anatolian village to make his way back to his hometown of Istanbul, also the home of his now grown-up children. Unable to survive financially until he receives his pension, Nazim takes to driving his friend's cab at night and soon encounters the beautiful singer Dünya (Cumbul), a single mum who he takes under his wing after a run-in with her abusive ex-husband Halil (Esen). For a short while it's all happy families, but it soon becomes apparent that Nazim's fatherly affection is misplaced and his children find his actions hard to deal with.

Though Dünya is the catalyst for much of the action in the film, it's Nazim's emotional journey and confrontation with his past that form the story's backbone. Gönül Yarasi takes on a redemptive story arc as Nazim, the highly idealistic volunteer devoted to teaching in far-flung corners of Turkey, is confronted with the negative effects that his actions have had on his family. His daughter in particular has to live with the irreversible effects of a childhood illness that he failed to get treatment for and this revelation is quietly devastating to her father.

Depite being over two hours long, Gönül Yarasi is sufficiently absorbing to viewers not acclimatised to Turkish cinema or aware of the traditions and familial codes that form much of the drama. Sener Sen gives a placid performance as Nazim but it's really Meltem Cumbul as the high-maintenance yet put-upon Dünya and Timuçin Esen as her terrifying husband who linger long after their tragic exit from the film.

A somewhat workman-like but ultimately moving portrait of families dealing with their demons and past mistakes, Gönül Yarasi offers a well-acted and emotionally charged slice of Turkish life.

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German+English+Dutch+French+Turkish sub
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