One Family, One Country

in 40th International Istanbul Film Festival

by Hasan Nadir Derin

One big family, a debt and great moral conflict. Director Fikret Reyhan relentlessly yet subtly reveals how an irresolvable moral conflict makes a moral dilemma.

When Reyhan presented his Yellow Heat (Sarı Sıcak) in 2017 he told a story from the south of Turkey that carries traces of his own past. Although Reyhan won many awards with his first film, it wasn’t as inspired as other films of that year. Fractured (Çatlak, 2021), which met with the audience at the Antalya Film Festival last year and now at the İstanbul Film Festival, is an important step forward for the director.

In the movie, which he wrote and even edited, Reyhan tells us about an event that will shatter the foundations of a large Turkish family. We have seen many films about families that come together for a special day and their secrets are revealed. However, Reyhan establishes the conflict from a seemingly much smaller place. The money that the family’s son, who lived in England for a while, borrowed and sent to his family in Turkey, is an unpaid debt. As in most traditional Turkish families, the father has the last word, and he says that the debt belongs to all of them. One way or another, they will pay it.

Like the cracks that slowly appear in an apartment, first noticed by no one but gradually growing, the conflict between family members progressively increases in the movie. And that tension is strong enough to carry the whole film. Family members, who at first seem to respect the father’s idea about the debt, come to a point where they realize everyone has their own problems, and they should solve them independently.

Another success of the script is that, apart from the introductory part where the creditors come, the movie does not set up predictable conflicts. For example, a conflict between the secular and conservative family members, stuck between traditional values ​​and modern values, would have been a straightforward solution. However, as we always said in our daily life, the economy is at the root of everything. Even though there are differences in their opinions, this family lives together somehow, trying to ignore their contrasts and highlight their similarities. But they suddenly change when money is the business.

Fractured has a large cast, but none of the characters can be considered the lead. Each of them can come forward and contribute to the film at crucial moments. In this sense, the whole movie presents a very successful example of team acting. Another achievement of the actors is that they are very natural. Combined with the powerful script, it feels like we were a guest or a family member, and we are watching them. Besides, the movie is full of fine details about life. Although they do not directly affect the main story, they manage to give information about the characters without underlining them. For example, the fact that the mother avoids shaking hands with male guests is a detail that you may miss if you take your eyes off the screen for a moment, but it’s essential for the family’s elders.

Another success of the film is the use of limited space. After a while, we recognize and adopt the apartment where most of the events take place as if it was our own home. The camera pulls us in as if we are members of the family, wandering around the house, almost forgetting ourselves throughout the entire film.

Fractured is a film about family conflicts. Putting Turkey’s economic situation in the background, it manages to make its characters very precise. It uses approximately 80 minutes of running time very well and does not contain any unnecessary scenes. This movie, which makes us wonder about Fikret Reyhan’s subsequent films, is a candidate for being an important example of modern Turkish cinema.

Hasan Nadir Derin
Edited by Yael Shuv