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A charming, lovely apology letter of a film. In the film, an aspiring filmmaker (a stand-in for Ceylan presumably) goes back to the town where he grew up and coaxes his family members into appearing in his first film. The filmmaker is so intently focused on trying to get his film made that he’s mostly oblivious both to the gorgeous surroundings as well as the real life problems that his family members are facing and attempting to talk to him about. The dedication to Chekhov is apropos and Ceylan, like Chekhov, portrays the clash between family as a unit and the aspirations and concerns of each individual member. Ceylan portrays every other character with great tenderness but is pretty harshly self-critical. He seems to be seriously grappling with questions that seems pretty central to his own pursuit of art. How far is he allowed to go with letting his concerns as an artist override the very human concerns of those surrounding him? Is an artist trying to plumb autobiographical material and family for his films inherently self-serving?

For all these tough questions that the film seems to be asking, it’s also full of humor. We know the mother will appear in the film ultimately but she never stops nagging the son about finding other actors in her place. In just a few scenes with the little kid, Ceylan takes us back to our memories of the very first lies we learnt to tell. Owes something to Through the Olive Trees as well.

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