‘Abluka’: Weapon of choice

Director Emin Alperand’s sophomore feature and”Ablukaand” (Frenzy) is fierce, in fact it is so fierce that watching it in this very specific time period in Turkey, in which political instability has become the status quo, is chilling to the bone.
Alper has proven his merits and directorial vision once again after his impeccable — even if calculated — and”Tepenin Ardiand” (Beyond the Hill), which received awards and praise at 2012and’s Berlin Film Festival.
and”Ablukaand” premiered at the Venice Film Festival this year and as a bonus, garnered a special jury prize. Between the two features, a similarity in theme and visual motifs can be found, especially with regard to Turkeyand’s patriarchal manifestations in public and private contexts, alongside the nature of masculine insecurities and paranoia and this natureand’s close relationship with weapons. It seems as though Alperand’s own weapon of choice is the shotgun, since he almost uses the very same frame in both films: a medium shot of a young man aiming his shotgun to the far corner of the frame.
But it would be unjust to pigeonhole this helmerand’s sense of cinema as a fascination of how normal men, after lengthy internal struggles, unintentionally give in to their inclination for violence, since both of Alperand’s films have a deep understanding of Turkish society on a larger scale. Namely, a deep awareness of the omnipresence of the iron fist of hierarchy and the abuse of power.
One of the elements that make and”Ablukaand” a little more immersive than and”Tepenin Ardiand” is its atmosphere and production values.
The story is set in Istanbul, maybe in the near future, or maybe even now. Half of the city is controlled by police who have barricaded some neighborhoods, while some other parts of the city are frequently bombed. Who is behind the bombs, we do not know. Maybe some terrorist organization or maybe not. Within this dystopian atmosphere of instability and fear, Kadir (Mehmet andOzgandur) is released from prison on parole — on the condition that he works as an informant for the secret service in helping them find out about members of an anarchist group. Kadir is planted in his old neighborhood he initially seeks out his younger brother, Ahmet (Berkay Atei), who hasnand’t seen Kadir in years and hardly recognizes the man. The two also have another brother called Veli, but he disappeared 10 years ago.
Ahmet seems to display a mild indifference to Kadirand’s return, plus heand’s not in great shape. Ahmetand’s wife and kids have left him, he refrains from any kind of social intimacy and his days pass shooting stray dogs on the orders of the municipality. The use of light and differing shades in portraying the psychology of the brothers is an effective tool throughout the film and becomes a strong narrative motif — two brothers who are so very different from each other yet so much alike in their position as henchmen for authorities.
Things seem to spiral down for both siblings in their loneliness and isolation: Kadir slowly becomes obsessed with his landlordand’s wife, while Ahmet closes himself off in his home, caring for a stray dog that he himself had wounded. When the neighborhood is barricaded by the police on the suspicion of terrorist activity, the stakes are raised even further and a full-on paranoia leading to a distorted perception of reality separately befalls both men.
Ahmet fears that his newfound compassion for the literal andquotunderdogandquot will be discovered and Kadir, pressured by his bosses to find and”the terrorists,andquot starts presuming false stories about Ahmet and his neighbors. It is the propeller of a purely tragic end.
This is the story of simple men who fall prey to a cul-de-sac system that they themselves unknowingly perpetuate.
The cinematic forte of and”Ablukaand” lies mostly in its effectiveness in creating and relaying to the audience the very exact atmosphere of fear and desperation that its characters inhabit. Adam Jandrupand’s stellar cinematography and Cevdet Erekand’s eerie sound design contribute immensely to the achingly uncanny universe of this dystopian political thriller.
Then again, the dystopia we see is not so far from our current local reality. Lo and behold, Emin Alper proves once again he is a director with not just vision, but a purpose.


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