About Dry Grasses (Kuru Otlar Üstüne)
Samet (Denis Celiloğlu) is an art teacher currently on compulsory service in an Anatolian village, but, like many others, he hopes to be able to move to Istanbul soon. This dream is potentially compromised when allegations of improper conduct with his students arise.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan knows how to write and helm intricate characters. Samet is the type of man who never questions his own righteousness: he scoffs at the school’s random bag searches and over the fuss they make when they find makeup or love letters from students to each other; he scolds his colleagues over the way they talk about the children, but when he is alone, Samet reads the letter in question, giggling to himself. When the student asks to retrieve the letter, he first lies to her, then flips a switch to lord his power over her.
About Dry Grasses excels in its masterful cinematography, framing the Turkish landscape and snow with remarkable precision and beauty. The imagery is laced with photographs, some static, some in motion, in a way that serves as both a distancing effect from the plot as well as a measured contribution towards it.
The Palme d’Or-winning director takes the initial situation and creates a conundrum around it, of accountability in a much broader sense. Most of the three hours and 15 minutes’ runtime is spent observing the protagonists pondering the problems in their school and their country. While the camera constantly tries to find new and interesting ways of framing the long takes of conversation, no matter how beautiful the composition, any shot of people sitting at a table, drinking tea and complaining becomes tedious after more than a few minutes. These are conversations many of us would zone out of in real life, so it takes a specific focus from the audience to stay with the setup in order to reap its reward – because, make no mistake, Ceylan is driving at something with his intellectual arrangement, but it takes patience to get to the home stretch.
About Dry Grasses (Kuru Otlar Üstüne) does not have a UK release date yet.
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