Belonging (Burak Cevik, 2019)
Imagine a Turkish version of Before Sunrise. Imagine that, when the movie ends, there’s no Before Sunset nor Before Midnight. Imagine there’s no “You’re gonna miss that plane” scene—imagine a world where that scene doesn’t exist! Imagine that after the credits, She and He meet the following day and plot to murder her mother—because, deep down, we always imagined Julie Delpy was a little cuckoo.
And that’s Belonging for you.
The homicide is never shown, but we know the outcome from the movie’s 25-minute introduction, where a narrator describes us in exhaustive detail the crime they’re about to commit. Belonging is a film that plays with audience expectations. Its slow pace and lack of climax will frustrate viewers anticipating more action and suspense, but director Burak Cevik questions why anyone would want to watch such a heinous and heartless crime in the first place.
Belonging is also about context. We could’ve been in front of just another romantic drama, but knowing that these two people will later be responsible for the death of a person changes the whole perspective. It’s not romantic any more, it’s disturbing, and strengthens that terrifying feeling that our lives can be destroyed overnight, and what we believe might be the love of our life will actually be its condemnation.
It's a great concept, but some great ideas sound better on paper than in execution. Burak Cevik is no Richard Linklater even though he's not trying to emulate him. The Turkish director appeals more for the mundane, as neither Pelin nor Onur would have been as eloquent as Jesse and Céline, but even the mundane can be portrayed in a more compelling way. Despite the movie’s lack of a major impact, Belonging is a thought-provoking experiment in narrative that makes us wonder what kind of tragedies await for any fictional character after their story supposedly ends.
Original title: Aidiyet
Directed by Burak Cevik | 2019 | Turkey
Main cast: Eylül Su Sapan, Çaglar Yalçinkaya