BEFORE SUNRISE (“Şafakla Dönenler,” 2014, Turkey)


ŞAFAKLA DÖNENLER || 2014, Turkey || Drama || Directed by – Murat Eroglu / Written by – Murat Eroglu / Produced by – Murat Eroglu / Cinematography – Metin Dag, Semih Yildiz / Edited by – Semih Yildiz / Starring: Ugur Erzengin, Emre Kentmenoglu, Gurkan Korkmaz / Running time:70 mins.


“Before Sunrise (Şafakla Dönenler)” by Murat Eroglu (2014, Turkey)

Before we move on, make sure you know that this film does not have anything to do with the Richard Linklater indie romance modern classic. Murat Eroglu’s Before Sunrise tells the story of a man and his 12-year-old son who live in a shabby home and work in the sometimes dangerousn Turkish street market, a job that is not technically legal. There, everyone makes their own rules as they go along.

It is a low-budget movie. It looks low-budget and sounds low-budget. In the latter case, some of the audio’s levels are unbalanced and, much like the editing overall, can be quite disorienting. Then again, this style naturally welcomes realism and might have members of the audience wondering whether or not they are watching a documentary.

It is indeed a narrative film and within its narrative, the relationship between the father and the son is central. So much so, in fact, that it is quite easy to compare it to De Sica’s neorealist classic Bicycle Thieves – also because somewhere along the lines, a stolen cart becomes a pivotal narrative point. Pivotal but not overbearing. In fact, always for the sake of maintaining a realist scope, Eroglu’s film is most charming in the sequences where nothing much happens, especially not to move the story forward. These are the sequences depicting the workers taking a break, sitting in a circle, enjoying their tea and smoking. As they do so, they talk about their problems and discuss their everyday lives, opening up an unfamiliar world to the audience and even adding a charming sense of comraderie to the hard-shelled world of a Turkish street market.

Such charm makes the roughness of the edges of Before Sunrise smoother. Much like the conventional narrative clichés that Eroglu occasionally resorts to; they serve as a hook for an audience, particularly an international one, that would otherwise seem lost. Because of the director’s commitment to his representational vision, the shamelessly romantic moments in which he adds non-diegetic music are welcome. Here, the notes of a piano invade the film’s action, playing well-known compositions by the likes of Chopin and Satie. In this case, poetry is created by the sharp contrast of the low-budget filmmaking, the dirty and rough setting of the story and the dramatic force of the music. – 3/5


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