Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, starring Muzaffer Ozdemir and Mehmet Emin Toprak.
Mehmet Emin Toprak, the star of 'Distant (Uzak)', was posthumously awarded the Best Actor Award (shared with co-star Muzaffer Ozdemir) at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003. Four months earlier, Toprak, the cousin of director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, had died in a car crash driving home from the Ankara Film Festival - the night before his death 'Distant' had been accepted for Cannes. It's no surprise, then, that there's a poignancy running through Toprak's every moment onscreen in 'Distant', and it's this sadness that keeps your attention focussed - even when the plot seems to be going nowhere.
Right in the middle of a mid-life crisis, photographer Mahmut (Ozdemir) is disillusioned with his choice of career and troubled by the break-up of his marriage some years earlier. With bars, porn and prostitutes completing his drudgery, Mahmut doesn't relish the arrival of country cousin Yusuf (Toprak) to his Istanbul apartment. Having lost his job at the factory in their hometown, Yusuf has come to Istanbul to find work on a ship, but no-one is recruiting and the city provides too much of a distraction to his job-hunting. And with Yusuf unable to say when he's moving on, Mahmut's hospitality starts to shrivel up.
For arthouse fans 'Distant' should be a must - filled as it is with lingering shots, awkward silences and the ever-growing weight of knowing that no character will end up smiling. Every colour and emotion here seems a variation of grey, with Ceylan (who also wrote, shot, produced and co-edited the film) so unobtrusive in directing non-professional actors Ozdemir and Toprak that it feels like watching real-life unfolding. Here a mouse gets stuck in a trap, Yusuf won't clean up after himself and Mahmut suspects him of stealing a watch, and with each of these scenes grows the feeling that with more meaningful dialogue, 'Distant' would have been a more powerful and 'enjoyable' experience.
And if you're short on patience or at loggerheads with your flatmate you should give it a miss.