What is the story about?
Adem and Leyla, a wealthy middle-aged couple, decide to seek help from a marriage counsellor, Nergis, who also happens to be a witch. However, Nergis gets into an affair with Adem and wants Leyla out of their lives. Unable to convince his wife for a divorce, Adem plots for Leyla to die by accident, but fate keeps making different plans. What happens next?
Very rarely do you come across a slapstick comedy in any language that blends its campy tone with layers of black humour, but this Turkish film is a scream. Director Ezel Akay takes inspiration from Tayfun Turkili‘s stage play 9 Lives to construct this mad story of a husband who keeps trying to make arrangements for his wife to die by accident—and the wife who keeps living a charmed life. What is amazing is how layered this entire story is. The screenplay and set design have enough elements inspired not just by the Babylonian story of Lilith, who was supposedly Adam’s first wife before Eve, but also feminist elements from other traditions as well. I spotted a giant mural of the goddess Durga too in one scene.
Akay sets up the story beautifully with a memorably oddball cast of characters with their own quirks, but the middle portions of the film are sometimes boring. Leyla’s life is endangered more than one time, and you have to sit through those scenes. However, Akay pulls off a jaw-dropping climax, culminating in a cheeky yet hard-hitting message about the position of women in society.
Haluk Bilginer is memorable as the lovelorn Adem, who keeps plotting to kill his wife and fails miserably each time. Demet Akbag is the happy-go-lucky Leyla, whose secret is revealed only in the climax. Elcin Sangu is suitably minx-like as Nergis, the therapist with an agenda of her own. Among the secondary cast, Firat Tanis brings the house down as Makdum, the art collector who kidnaps people for fun and has an unhealthy obsession with the number 2.
Music & Other Departments
Ender Akay provides a suitably goofy score which goes well with the tenor of the film, with a few musical elements thrown in. Hayk Kirakosyan does okay with the camerawork.
The climax is definitely a major highlight, but there are also other scenes where the goofy writing shines. In one scene, a character tries to hit on Nergis by telling her how beautiful she is. When she replies that she wants to hear something new, he hilariously retorts back, “Ladybugs can fly at a speed of 60 kilometres per hour”.
The middle portions of the film are definitely a stumbling block. In fact, this film would’ve worked better with half-an-hour shaved from its running time.
Also, the entire gag of Adem speaking to the various manifestations of his mind whenever he faints is tiring to watch after a point of time.
Did I enjoy it?
Do I recommend it?