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Ember

Kor

Zeki DemirkubuzTurkey / Germany115 minutes201618AColourTurkish

In this slow-burning psychological drama from Turkish director Zeki Demirkubuz, an Istanbul seamstress struggling with the debts left behind by her vanished husband rekindles an old friendship that escalates into an affair.

The latest film by Turkish director Zeki Demirkubuz stands among the best we have seen from Turkey in recent years. With Ember, Demirkubuz deals with themes of survival and faithfulness while telling the story of a young Istanbul family struggling for survival and self-respect in an impersonal and harsh society.

Cemal may have disappeared, but his debts remain, and his wife Emin (Asl?han Gürbüz) is held accountable for them. She lives a quiet and modest life as a seamstress and mother to young son Mete. One day she has a chance encounter with Cemal's old business partner Ziya (Taner Birsel). The two rekindle their old friendship, and soon enough, their intimacy simmers to a boil. Ziya extends his kindness further, lending a financial helping hand for an urgent and costly operation. Yet the sudden reappearance of Cemal (Caner Cindoruk) brings their tryst to a halt, forcing each of them to face their respective moral and ethical responsibilities under the clouds of uncertainty and suspicion.

Demirkubuz shows impressive dexterity at unfolding his slow-burn psychological drama. He orchestrates his characters' motion within the narrative as meticulously and meaningfully as a painter places figures on a canvas — but Demirkubuz's canvas is a social field of uncertainties, suspicions, and indifference. The careful camerawork frames the actors with great precision, and the excellent performances of Gürbüz, Birsel, and Cindoruk lend absolute credibility to the film. By the end, we have become closely attached to the film's central trio, and we feel as though we are implicated in their difficult psychological and existential quandaries.

DIMITRI EIPIDES

Female ExperienceRelationshipsDrama