The Snow that Refuses to Fall in Antalya…
Written and directed by Emre Aydoğdu, the film “Snow” is a class-conscious narrative of hopeless and rebellious youth.
Films centred on child protagonists have become a trend in Turkish cinema. Yet, in a country in which people under 30 account for half the population, few movies are made about young people.
We can list a few examples such as “The Exam” (2006) by Ömer Faruk Sorak, “Black Dogs Barking” (2010) by Mehmet Bahadır Er and Maryna Gorbach, “Nobody’s Home” (2013) by Deniz Akçay Katıksız, “The Blue Wave” (2014) by Zeynep Dadak, “Until I Lose My Breath” (2014) by Emine Emel Balcı, and Banu Sıvacı’s movie that has yet to begin showing in theatres, “The Pigeon”. There are comedies with young protagonists, such as the “Cool School” series, but these are not works that seriously confront the issues of young people’s lives, thoughts, and dreams.
“Snow”, however, which competed at the Sofia Film Festival before coming to theatres, presents a profile of today’s youth.
The film focuses on a group of young people who live on the brink of oblivion because they lack the resources to broaden their horizons and become interested, ambitious people.
It tells the story of a young woman living in a lower-middle-class neighbourhood in the Mediterranean city of Antalya, who succumbs to fits of rage, shoplifts at grocery stores, shamelessly begs at the park, drinks and does drugs and has yet to graduate from high school despite having passed the age of 18.
The focal point of the film is Müzeyyen (Hazar Ergüçlü), who has finally managed to become a high school senior at the age of 20. She idly spends her days with classmates Bekir (Doğaç Yıldız), Ebru (Nazlı Bulum), and Ferdane (Arsevi Özyurt), and her boyfriend and drug supplier Hazerhan (Halil Babür), and his friends Kadir (Erhan Sefacı) and Rahim.
They do drugs at Rahim’s house, Müzeyyen and Hazerhan have sex, and then everyone goes home. At school, we witness the group accosting and beating up a friend Fardane envies.
Müzeyyen struggles to control herself, as if she is releasing built-up anger. After nights out, we witness her pouring her energy into cleaning.
It is as if she is cleaning not her house, but herself. She is purifying herself by cleaning the windows and washing the dishes. As other details about her life are revealed little by little, the source of her purifying inclinations gradually becomes apparent as well.
At the very beginning of the movie, Müzeyyen’s brother Ali (Ozan Uygun), whom she had not previously known, shows up on her doorstep from the northern city of Bolu. After initially having her friends beat him up, over time Müzeyyen warms to this kid who is very different from her, who has grown up privileged and academically successful, who was able to buy an expensive camera and yet who is very defiant of his father.
Ali joins their nights out on the town, and skilfully becomes the gang’s favourite. We learn that Müzeyyen was born out of wedlock, out of an affair her married father had while visiting her mother on business trips.
Müzeyyen describes her mother (Fulya Aksular) to Ali as a “professional mistress”. Her mother is much more blunt in describing herself and her daughter, and though she initially seems just sit at home smoking cigarettes, keeping quiet and generally unlikeable, over the course of the movie her portrait becomes defined.
Ali develops curiosity about his older sister and defies his father by coming to Antalya to visit her. After being accepted into the gang, he adapts to everything and begins using drugs with them.
On the other hand, he pushes Müzeyyen to take university entrance exams, and offers to bring her back to Bolu and tutor her himself. By insisting, “I am not my father,” he wins her trust. We learn that after Ali’s birth, their father Mehmet stopped visiting Müzeyyen and her mother and cut off monetary support.
We realise that Müzeyyen’s anger problems and drug use are self-destructive responses to the injustice she has suffered and the resentment she feels towards her absent parents.
All of the characters prefer this method of escaping their problems by forgetting about their unhappiness and hopeless futures. Just as they manage to strike a balance, and the audience witnesses what seems to be budding affection between the siblings, this unbounded drunkenness leads the siblings, as well as the audience, to experience a serious shock.
While he has crafted well-developed characters with Müzeyyen and Ali, Erdoğdu has resorted to tropes in the supporting roles. Absent mother, macho father, bubbly and good-humoured friend Bekir, his activist brother who scares everyone, Hazerhan and Kadir who have not amounted to anything in life, jaded principal, and so forth.
Despite the clichéd characters, all of the young actors give credible performances. Ergüçlü and Uygun draw on their fleshed out characters to deliver balanced performances as well.
We also cannot help but comment on the strange choice of Cypriot actress Ergüçlü in “Snow” for the award of the 2017 Adana Film Festival’s Most Promising Actress, considering the fact that her film debut was in 2011 with Derviş Zaim’s “Shadows and Face”, and that she has since starred in “Full of Hunger” (2012) and “Tight Dress” (2016), as well as many television series.
The screenplay highlights social norms, unequal opportunities, and an apolitical society. With the help of one of the greatest acting and directing talents of the next generation, Ayris Alptekin, Aydoğdu has produced a noteworthy debut. He set the tone of the film with an eponymous opening scene, moved the audience with the final scene, created a feeling generally reminiscent of Trainspotting, and has left us all wondering what will come next.