This came out last year and was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film. It was on in the tiny cinema in Ambleside, so we went.
It is a story of suppression set in Turkey, probably in the south nr Antalya, by the sea. The narrative outline is soon . . . what? . . . adumbrated by the family dynamic: an unmarried middle-aged uncle, an elderly widowed grandmother who has taken the sisters in and largely lives under the thumb of her son, said unmarried uncle, and five pretty girls all orphans, coming up to puberty. Okay, rather contrived. The girls are accused of flirting with local boys and we see the event: as they are going home from school, they horse around with the boys in the class and get soaked in the sea. Wet t-shirt stuff. A surly neighbour reports all this to the gran who decides to ground the girls but when the uncle hears about it, he decides to lock them up, imprison them effectively, in their room. With steel bars at the windows.
There is a strong sense of intimacy between the sisters: even when imprisoned, they are tactile with one another, playful completely unsophisticated and ingenuous in one another’s company. This gives we the audience some lovely scenes of the girls which in turn makes what happens next, all the more unbearable.
At first we see the narrowness of their gaolers thinking; soon they are being married-off, at sixteen, even fifteen, to young men they have never even met before, older, working, serious, not the schoolboys we saw them having fun with earlier. This is the solution: get them married while they are still virgins and the ‘problem’ will disappear.
I liked it a lot. Wouldn’t have given it 5* but four would be about right. Critics seem divided about the contrived story-line and the inevitable plot-holes such a narrative will unavoidably produce. One reviewer claims it isn’t subtle enough but this is one of those times when tell not show is the perfect approach.
I went to Antalya once and to be honest didn’t find the population as conservative as they are portrayed here; they receive millions of summer visitors from Europe plus as well, many, many Turkish citizens work in Germany and surrounding countries and they are very well aware of the liberated attitudes of young women. But that isn’t what this film is about.
This might be the worst film I have ever seen.
Not even sure how to describe it without resorting to adjectives such as excessive violence; unrestrained aggression; pornographic; profane in the extreme: no sentence is spoken by anyone in the film without the word fuck. You never get, ‘We’re out of milk, and I’m just walking across to the shops to get more’. Every time it becomes, ‘We’re out of fucking milk, I’m just walking across to the fucking shops to get more’. God, it’s tedious. Was that funny, by the way? Everyone but me thought it was hilarious.
I mean it is so far from any terms of reference I can recognise or relate to and okay, adults clearly aren’t its core audience but even making due allowance for all that, it is terrible within its own terms. What I think it is trying to do is play on a theme of anti-Superhero so that instead of say Batman saving the World and combating bad-guys intent on destroying the World, Mr Pool has no such concerns. He is a Lad: chasing girls, inhabiting bars; fighting [and picking fights . . . very subversive for a Superhero]; boozing and being abusive to every straight section of society. But . . . he does all of this to excess using [in fact misusing] his superpowers.
Trouble here is I have never seen any X-Men films or real Superhero films [Spiderman, for example] that this sets out to diss so I don’t/can’t get the ironic humour and I am a million miles from the subculture being referenced in the motormouth quips.
Eventually, one becomes aware of the homoerotic references. In a scene in a bar he asks the bar tender for a blow-job and he is given some kind of cocktail with whipped cream on top; turns out a blow-job means different things to different people: it’s all about context. But the point is, he asks the bar-man for the blow-job. Really not sure what is going on with this, it occurs a lot although Pool is in a relationship with a woman for the whole of the first half of the film and its pretty full-on: as per always in a Fox/Hollywood film she is full-frontal at all times but he is more modestly filmed. Christ, this double-standard Century City insists upon. There is a quasi-academic article buried in the Guardian claiming that it is all about bi-sexuality; pan-sexual the author calls it. Completely passed me by. The academic article I would like to have read is the one about why and how this ultra-violent pornographic ‘comedy’ pulled in $742m Worldwide against a budget of $58m. Who watches this stuff? Young American men? In the first twenty minutes at least a hundred people are gunned down in a hail of bullets; without consequences. In the next twenty minutes when the women appear, every one is dressed like someone’s call-girl fantasy and spoken to like . . . like . . . slags/objects. Sexualised objects. I thought, I really did, that this kind of talk went out decades ago but here it is in Superhero films [and Westworld and GOT]. It never goes away: women make one step forward and six steps backwards. And it’s no use telling me I need to contextualise the film by the laws of its own universe . . .
The person I went with liked it and laughed a lot; laughed loudest when the guy pulled the sword out of his own torso. The sword that should have killed him. She laughed at the scene where the camera turned to reveal Ryan Reynolds’ bum: he wasn’t wearing trousers. Tee-hee.
Done more research. Its American teenage girls that form two-thirds of its audience. They love Ryan and they love his bum. They feel sorry for him, for being disfigured and they love his grungy lifestyle. The endless sexual references and profanity are a guilty thrill; the aggression and violence, being sprayed with bullets from a high-velocity weapon and coming out completely unharmed, just goes over their heads [or they shut their eyes]. Anyway, it’s funny. The boinky-boinky? Well it’s everywhere now. What doesn’t go over their heads is the referencing of their own lives, their current concerns, current culture; the buzz, the noise, the relevance.
This is a 2015 film with a largely British cast that we watched on Netflix: it has 99% positive approval in the Rotten Tomatoes echo-chamber. I’m afraid I found it heavy-handed and tedious.
Long, long before it became the National Shrine it is today I visited the Lorraine Motel; just a cheap run-down hotel for the underclass. Said more about the forces ranged against King than any book, film or Oscar-nominated performances.