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Night of Silence/Lal Gece

7/10

Stars: Ilyas Salman, Dilan Aksut, Mayseker Yucel, Sabri Tutal, Sercan Demirkaya, Ahmet Aydin.

Director: Reis elik

The storyline is disturbing – in a remote Turkish village a 13 year-old Turkish girl is forced into an arranged marriage with a middle-aged man just released from prison whom she has never met in order to end an ancient blood feud between two families.

The marriage goes ahead and the girl is faced with a night when the marriage has to be proved to have been consummated by the production of a bloodstained bed sheet. Terrified, the bride tries to prevent the inevitable, first by remaining silent – “I’m not being timid. I’m scared”, she tells her husband, and then telling tales to distract. Finally tells him “I’m scared of your moustache” and persuades him to shave it off…

Writer-director Reis Çelik opens with a vivid sequence of villagers celebrating the marriage and subsequent wedding feast, painting a fascinating portrait of rural Turkey where ancient traditions are adhered to by the people although many, especially the youngsters, wear jeans and sneakers who like so many modern teenagers all over world and resemble all-American kids,.

Once the bride is led into the bridal chamber and told “Do as your husband says. This is your home now”, Çelik transforms the drama into a chilling and increasingly claustrophobic chamber piece impressively performed by Ilyas Salman as the groom and Dilan Aksut as his cowering child bride. The room is large but, due to the director’s very skilful use of the relatively confined space at his disposal seems to become smaller and smaller as the drama progresses.

Alan Frank

Turkey 2012. UK Distributor: Drakes Avenue Pictures Ltd. Colour.
91 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 23 Jun 2013