Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Confession

Published on: March 23rd, 2004

CONFESSION

6/10

Itiraf : Turkey 2001 : Zeki Demirkubuz : 91 mins

A husband answers the telephone while his wife sleeps in the next room. The caller immediately hangs up. This established cinematic shorthand for infidelity sets Confession on its dramatic course: the husband Harun (Taner Birsel) stews in paranoid jealousy while his wife Nilgun (Basak Koklukaya) somewhat ineptly tries to carry on her affair with an unseen lover. The pressure mounts, until Harun finally snaps and demands Nilgun confess to her misdeeds

Demirkubuz has been hailed as the next big thing in world cinema i.e. arthouse and festival movies since Confession and its companion-piece Fate (the first two episodes in his projected Tales Against Darkness trilogy) made history by both being selected for the Directors Fortnight at Cannes. An undeniably impressive achievement but, then again, very few directors will ever have two new films ready at the same time, and it isn’t as though Demirkubuzs films actually made it into the elite Competition section.

Comparisons with Kieslowski and Bergman are, on this evidence, somewhat premature. This is a solid, absorbing and economical film, unfolding in the ultra-modern confines of Ankara, Turkeys most sophisticated and forward-looking metropolis: Harun often watches CNN, enabling Tony Blair to notch an unlikely extended cameo during one news report.

Daringly, Demirkubuz keeps most of the films action off screen were filled in on the complex pre-story behind Nilgun and Haruns marriage (involving an unseen key character, Taylan) by means of retrospective conversations. Likewise, Nilguns problems afer she leaves her husband are related to both the audience and Harun himself by a gossipy family friend. The friend, Ayse (?Gulgun Kutlu?), is a welcome, no-nonsense presence, her fast-talking monologue arriving on the scene just as audiences may be starting to tire of Demirkubuzs ostentatiously unhurried storytelling pace.

Because, as with too many current directors, Demirkubuz seems to think that, by filling his script with brooding silences and some judicious excerpts of doomy classical music (in this case, Mahler), the results will automatically be interpreted as serious art: Carlos Reygadas Japon being the most extreme example of this trend. Demirkubuz is, however, a much more thoughtful, mature and talented writer, and he’s able to draw compelling performances from his leads Birsel and Koklukaya as both characters make the painful journey from chronic unhappiness, through despair, to an ambiguous glimmer of what might just be hope.

19th September, 2002
(seen 23rd August, on video Edinburgh Film Festival)

For all the reviews from the 2002 Edinburgh Film Festival click here.

by Neil Young