Sunday, November 1, 2020

Bliss: a Turkish drama of morals

Hello commies!

If you have the stomach for a film that deals with some heavy stuff, if you are willing to engage empathy while suspending judgment, consider Bliss, a Turkish drama.


Adapted from internationally acclaimed author Zulfu Livaneli's novel, BLISS is an unconventional road movie in which the executioner of an honor killing and his victim go on a journey of self-discovery.

When 17-year-old Meryem (Ozgu Namal) is found disheveled and unconscious by the side of a lake, her family believes the worst - that her chastity has been lost and that she has been a willing accomplice in its disposal. They turn to the ancient principle of "tore," a strict moral code governing the rules of sexual practice, which condemns Meryem to death. The duty of defending the family's honor is given to distant cousin Cemal (Murat Han), who must take Meryem to Istanbul and kill her along the way.

The two begin to fall for each other and their journey takes an unexpected turn when they meet Irfan (Talat Bulut), an academic escaping his big city angst, who is also looking for a second chance in life. Set against the impressive backdrop of Turkey's natural wonders, BLISS pits tradition against modernity, urban against rural and East against West, all the while refusing to settle for easy answers.

My thoughts

Turkey is a country of contrasts, as many reviewers have pointed out. Like many Middle Eastern countries, it has a flashy, hedonistic facade that lures in tourists and a savage, dark, cruel underbelly. The most disturbing part is that Cemal is no knight in shining armor, no Western savior for the poor Turkish peasant girl. Even though he refuses to carry out the task given to him, he is not very far removed from the people who condemned the 17-year old to death for losing her virginity. He is one of them. He is "one of the good ones", but he is still one of them. His anger and a sense of masculine entitlement come through on several occasions. That is what makes the viewers cringe in the end. It's not a happily ever after sort of ending. You are left wondering if it's only a matter of time before the beast in him comes out.

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