In a corrupt, covert and drawn-out trial, it becomes impossible to judge right from wrong. Turkish writer-director Selman Nacar both embraces and explores this in his chilling drama Hesitation Wound. Set to premiere in Venice Film Festival’s Horizons section, Hesitation Wound is a memorable depiction of morality and criminal justice.
Nacar invites his audience to follow criminal lawyer Canan’s (Tülin Özen) life for 24 rapid and heart-breaking hours. Canan is an ambitious woman who devotes the majority of her time to building a strong case for her defendant: a man accused of murdering his boss on account of his decision to leave the company. When Canan is not labouring for justice, she spends her time at the side of her mother’s hospital bed. After an unexpected break commences for the courtroom, the film establishes a new pace – it becomes a race to decide what is more important: morality or justice. Özen is triumphant in portraying a woman on the edge of both a break-through and a break-down. She brings heart and humanity to Canan, making it almost impossible not to have empathy towards her.
The title Hesitation Wound sets the tone for the entire feature, as viewers watch Canan carry the weight of decisions that can influence and alter the outcome of death. It’s certainly a moving film: not only does it explore the intricacies of the law, but it also explores what it means to be human. It follows characters that are presented with unsavoury aspects of life and asks them to challenge their perception of integrity and ethics. Uncertainty is woven throughout , and Nacar leaves the viewer with a mirrored confusion. There are questions that are never answered – perhaps the plot would have more power if they were.
Nacar has created a picture that is evocative of the cult classic La Haine by Mathieu Kassovitz: Hesitation Wound only covers 24 hours, it questions the authority of the law and asks viewers the uncomfortable question – if you knew the law was unjust, would you still follow it? The feature is a testament to Nacar’s ability as a filmmaker, from the intricacies of the trial to the haunting establishing shot. It is captivating, unsettling and poignant.
Ultimately, Hesitation Wound is a film about life and death, honesty and conscience, and all of the space in between.
Hesitation Wound does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Venice Film Festival 2023 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Venice Film Festival website here.