Film Review: Something Useful | Ise yarar bir sey (2017); Director: Pelin Esmer.

Something Useful

All Rights Reserved to the rightful owners. Something Useful Press Still. World Cinema Amsterdam festival 2018.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ – 3/5.

Author: Feargal Agard | Runtime: 104 min. | Director: Pelin Esmer | Year: 2017.

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A touching film with a poetic and philosophical feel! Something Useful | Ise yarar bir sey (2017) is about the lyrical revelation of people’s motives, but also about coincidence. Why do people do certain things when they normally wouldn’t want to do it. Or rather be doing something else.

Something Useful follows Leyla’s (Basak Köklükaya) journey by train from Ankara, Turkey to Izmir for the 25th high school reunion dinner while she had never attended before. She is in her early forties and is a lawyer. Before she gets on the train she meets Canan (Öykü Karayel) a young woman and nurse in her early twenties who claims to travel for a job interview. But Leyla quickly notices that something isn’t right with Canan, because she seems very troubled. They slowly get to know each other while having dinner on the train and whilst also talking to other passengers. Later on, Canan opens a bit up and tells Leyla that an acquaintance of hers was asked to help his paralyzed friend, Yavuz (Yiğit Özşener), out to end his life. The only thing is that he could not do it. Leyla who is pretty observant thought that after telling this Canan would be more relieved, but nonetheless, Canan was still troubled. It becomes clear that Canan is sent to end Yavuz’s life instead of her acquaintance, but Canan learns that Leyla has some secrets to her own life and motives for finally going to one of the high school reunions. Will they end up not going at all? Or will they do what they had set out to do?

Something Useful has been directed by Pelin Esmer and produced by herself and Marsel Kalvo and was co-written with Barış Bıçakçı. The film has been screened at the World Cinema Amsterdam Festival 2018. The film doesn’t come off like your standard film narrative. It maintains a very poetic and philosophical feel in which the characters discuss life, and death sometimes in an existential way. But also their fears and uncomfortableness with certain and particular situations. Which is very understandable in Canan’s case who has been sent to end the life of someone else with a euthanasia injection. Think about it who has ever been sent to do such a thing at age 21? The film also stars Aysenil Samlioglu, Berfu Öngören, Melih Duzenli, Sedat Kalkavan, Fatih Sevdi, Ibrahim Selim, Süleyman Karaahmet, Aydan Kalinaga, Neslihan Öztürk, Aslihan Kandemir, Ozanay Alpkan and Ersin Duymazlar.

The story’s narrative is very much dialogue and voiceover driven. It could feel like you need to decipher what all that is said actually means and hints out because it’s rather said in a poetic way. The poetic parts do make it very beautiful and well put together which is also ironic, but of course, it’s done on purpose because one of the characters has a history of being a poet. The voiceover can often come over as if it’s being said by a poet reading one of his or hers poetry pieces. The parts that the actors perform are done in a genuine and moving way. The bond that Leyla and Canan create almost looks like that of a mother and daughter even though they aren’t. But it is exquisite to see how they can help one another. It sometimes seems as if they are very similar. They are both at a crossing-point of their lives trying to figure out what to do next in their lives. But at the same time, they sometimes look nothing alike. It’s a contrast and likeness that plays out beautifully.

The cinematography and feel of the film are very original. More so in the sense that there were several great shots that you normally don’t see so much in what has become standard filmmaking. Close up shots that pass a character and dollies further away ending at the window of not only one but two characters on different floors. Shots that move from reflection to real persons several times and everlasting dinner table conversations that continuously move around from group to group, which is a long take and feels like a filmstrip. These are shots that you need to see for yourself in order to fully understand what is meant here, but it’s fact that cinematically this film is truly a piece that surprises the eye with riveting images and unique takes.

Something Useful is definitely worth a star rating of: ⭐⭐⭐ – 3/5, because it’s such a moving story that’s done in a literal and figurative poetic way. The voiceovers and the significant amount of dialogue can create a sense of long duration, but it is worth it as an artistic and poetic experience. Besides that, it sheds so much light, foreshadowing and background story to what is actually going on with these characters. I’d recommend this film to anyone who would like to discover this unique lyrical approach as there aren’t many films that attempt the path that this film has taken. Most importantly not many films that have taken this path have succeeded in gaining a great result.

Released as from the 27th of October 2017.

Genre: Drama | Languages: Turkish | Distributor: none yet. World Cinema Amsterdam festival 2018.

In regard to all pictures and trailer footage. All Rights Reserved to the rightful owners. Something Useful Press Still. World Cinema Amsterdam festival 2018.

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