This was the US premiere of Cagan Irmak’s film (the Writer and Director), Karanliktakiler. The film follows the dysfunctional relationship of mother and son. Egemen is a gofer at an ad agency and still lives with his mother, Gulseren. Gulseren is an extreme agoraphobic, and probably schizophrenic as well. But, as we find out, she was traumatized as a child. The trauma, and the way her family handled it, is an indictment of the place of women in Turkey not so many years ago. Although attitudes and roles are changing, there is still – as we learn – a long way to go.
It’s a tale of suffering but it also has many funny moments – one of which is a scene where Egemen gets his mother stoned. Egemen, who has a crush on his boss, Umay, is socially inept and stunted – a result of his strange relationship with his mother. But it’s all up to Egemen, no one else in the family will take responsibility for the matriarch.
The acting, certainly of Meral Cetinkaya (Gulseren) is top notch, and the story is thought provoking: A cold-eyed look at modern Istanbul. Umay is a thoroughly modern woman who runs her own business. But she has sacrificed personal relationships, which have been full of bad choices. As a businesswoman, she’s much more adept, than in navigating the mine fields of modern love in an Islamic society. Viewing the film, one has a sense that both Umay’s and Egemen’s problems could be solved if they got together. That, of course, is not about to happen. There’s the issue of status and class, but also a difference of ambition. Happiness is – as always, and in any society – complicated.
Erdem Akakce (Egemen)
Meral Cetinkaya (Gulseren)
Derya Alabora (Umay)