If ever a movie was forged out of silence, this is it. There are only a handful of dialogues in the whole of the movie and it conveys much more than a verbose movie ever can. The testimony of the movie’s genius is that even when there is seemingly ‘nothing happening’, you are still gripped by the movie. You realize that it is the atmosphere in the scene that grips you and holds you and that the seemingly nothingness is a medley of light, colours, facial expressions, sound and silence that speaks more than words ever can.
The story is about Mahmut and Yusuf, both of whom hail from the same village. Mahmut is a middle aged photographer who came out a long time back from the village and who has ‘made it’ in Istanbul. Yusuf is a 20 something lad who has been forced to move out of the village due to closure of a factory and looks to Mahmut to give him some support in the job hunt due to the same-village affinity. The story starts with Yusuf trudging upto Mahmut’s place where he is greeted with polite condescension as one would greet a poor country cousin. The story evolves as both try to adjust in the same home with each other’s presence.
We are slowly given a glimpse into both of their lives – not directly but by almost wordless encounters with each other and with other people, their expressions when they are alone, and their behaviour with each other. The complexity of the two men’s their lives and the how their proximity affects each of them is something that needs to be seen and cannot be explained in words.
The title ‘Distant’ comes into its own as the movie explores the contradictions and the weakness and their own little failures in life. Mahmut is shown to be a washed out photographer who has lost the fire to enjoy the work and who is essentially alone without the strength to maintain a relationship. His encounter with his ex-wife who is leaving forever is especially poignant. Yusuf is shown to be a person who while typifying a country bum at times is sensitive and shy. He implicitly understands his position in Mahmut’s house but keeps on trying to become better friends with him which Mahmut shrugs off as he feels that such a gesture is just opportunistic.
‘Distant’ suffuses everything in the movie – distances become unbridgeable and words become inadequate, relationship become strained and then the tenuous link snaps and there is nothing that can be done to repair it. The movie is a testimony to the fact that it is not language or culture that makes people and their lives distant but our lack of understanding and living in our own cocoon. The movie is about distances that become a part of our lives and between people around us without us getting to know about it.
The movie tells us all this and much more by the act of silence. Even the dialogues that are present are strained and pointed. Much more is expressed by the silence and the expressions. It is a masterpiece in the way all the visual and auditory elements are synchronized throughout the movie. The scenes sometimes leave you almost breathless with your own indefinable emotions chocking you. The movie is almost like a symphony with large tracts of silences that cut deep into your heart.
Having said all that, this movie is not for everybody. I have seen some people crib about the fact that the movie is a drag. You need a different temperament to appreciate this movie. If you would rather be somewhere else, you would be wasting the beauty that is being played out in front of you.
I believe that this is a movie which can be watched at different times in life and we would feel different emotions. This is a kind of a movie that grows with you (or do you grow with it?).