Kader | Destiny
DIRECTOR: Zeki Demirkubuz | WRITER: Zeki Demirkubuz | CAST: Vildan Atasever, Ufuk Bayraktar, Engin Akyürek, Müge Ulusoy, Erkan Can, Ozan Bilen | Turkey
I came to Kedar knowing nothing about it other than that it was directed by Zeki Demirkubuz, the much vaunted iconoclast whose Masumiyet I saw last June and sort of liked. That I didn’t realize Kedar is a prequel to Masumiyet — filling in the back story of the couple that film’s main character falls in with — until halfway through the movie indicates either that I was being particularly dense or that Demirkubuz’s already elliptical style has been taken to an extreme. I think it’s probably somewhere in between, with the added complication of my unfamiliarity with Turkish language and culture.
Bekir (Ufuk Bayraktar), a timid young man who manages his father’s rug store, falls instantly and madly — and unrequitedly — in love with a beautiful young woman from a dysfunctional family, Ugur (Vildan Atasever), who in turn is in love with the neighborhood sociopath — a thug and unrepentant murderer. Ugur leaves her family to follow her lover as he’s sent from one prison to another, and she supports herself by working as a singer/hostess/prostitute in seedy bars. Bekir shadows her from town to town and she tolerates his existence but only up to a point. What’s maddening is that we’re given no indication of the time frame being covered in the film, and what in other movies would have been key points — Bekir bankrupts his father’s store, he marries and fathers two children of his own — are mentioned in asides.
The film is bleak and gritty with sudden eruptions of brutality, but I didn’t have enough context to feel much about or for the characters, and while the acting is more muted than in Masumiyet, it’s generally not very good. Vildan Atasever looks and acts a bit like Helen Hunt which I found rather disconcerting; Ufuk Bayraktar, on the other hand, is exotically handsome (in profile) but simply cannot act. From what I can glean Kedar struck a nerve in Turkey, not least because of its language which is apparently exceptionally vulgar, but none of that came through in the subtitles. I’m going to give Demirkubuz the benefit of the doubt on this one.