There’s an odd combination of audio and video in the introductory sequence of The Gift. It is probably a different kind of creative liberty director Ozan Aciktan has taken to establish a style of his own. In India, when Andhadhun created a buzz with its abstract ending, director Sri Ram Raghavan had clarified that he was in a spot since he didn’t want an artist to be seen as a murderer.
It is in our innate nature to put an artist on a pedestal since he chose to path not taken often, but does that liberate him from pain, and automatically bar him from the ability to commit murder? It’s uncomfortable to imagine so, isn’t it? That was probably a cinematic establishment which director Ozan Aciktan tried to establish in The Gift.
In the opening sequence, which happens at a graveyard, a weepy woman cries who could be hurt by Atiye? when suddenly, the woman who is supposedly burying stumbles out of the woods in a blood-stained dress. On a very comical note, this is an incident which happened in Tom Sawyer, where he ended up attending his own funeral or many a time, you wonder if there has been a fake death to get the insurance money.
The series begins in a flashback where Atiye (Beren Saat) works as an artist in Istanbul. Her life doesn’t seem to be that bad, she has a doting lover, Ozan (Metin Akdulger) who is naturally supportive of her decisions and stands by her through thick and thin. She is about to display her paintings in the gallery for the first time. It’s a busy evening where she tries on her best of attires to look perfect for the evening when suddenly her designer sister Cansu (Melisa Senolsun), sees the vision of an elderly lady outside her sister’s shop, staring into the window. When she steps outside to welcome to do some basic conversation, she is gone.
Atiye sees the vision of the old woman again in the opening night and follows her out of the gallery into the street, and she expectedly disappears again. Despite witnessing a successful night she shares a drunken conversation with her mother who tells her to do something apart from being a full-time artist. Here we are convinced that no matter which part of the country you live in, parents are usually never supportive if you choose to be in the field of art.
The shot moves and she wakes up to the news of archaeological find and is shocked to discover that the sculpture was the same painting she has been painting for decades. Here’s where our story begins when she finds a spiritual connection to the find and decides to go to Gobekli Tepe and understand more about her mystic connection.
The truth is hidden deep beneath and is usually never served to us in a plate. It would be quite amateur to call it ‘a copy’ or another western idea. Some situations may have a similar kind of path but different routes to reach the destination.
The Gift is brought to us by the same team that produced The Protector (including Jason George, Alex Sutherland, Onur Güvenatam and Özge Bağdatlıoğlu) which is why on a completely different ground it feels vastly similar. The Protector had turned out to be one of Netflix’ most popular international series.
In the establishing episode, we are led to believe that there’s a lot more going on but it is only when we reach the final episode that we realise that a lot of it is just for show, to build tension while introducing us to the main characters of the sketch of the script. When Atiye feels a connection to the ancient artefact everything else in the plot becomes secondary, but that doesn’t seem to bother us, not if you are more interested in knowing about the connection than the sub-plots.
There’s sufficient amount of skin-showing which naturalises an adult way of communication, however since it is based in a country where the movement of women is restricted, let us just hope that this natural act of physical communication does not make anyone fall in trouble. At least they all have their clothes on.
The series ends with the shot of the cave wall, above the symbol, which is an etched piece of the little girl with a star on her forehead.Casting Ozan as the jealous boyfriend eventually becomes disappointing. With his behaviour, he sort of established that he can’t supportive when realizes that the free-spirited woman he wants to marry loves him and only wants to be with him?
The Gift is strongly attached to reality and unlike fictions of the 90s it does not rely on any supernatural instincts to continue a story. The cast too makes an excellent effort beating every content that released in 2020 till now. (Oh it’s only been two days, but yes it is definitely doing a better job than Ghost Stories already).