Sideways (2017) (Yol Kenari in original title) could have been a masterpiece. Instead, it’s a chore to sit through.
The Turkish director Taifun Pirselimoglu tells a story of a small village, crammed between a sinister forest and sea. Soon the villagers start to notice strange things that are happening – fires burst out out of nowhere, a huge cruise ship is stationed near the coast. People are becoming more and more frightened and once a newcomer comes round to work in a coffee shop, some of them see their Savior in him.
After the political turbulences that took place in Turkey in 2016, the country is far from stability. This allowed the director Taifun Pirselimoglu’s to use an allegory of an apocalypse to paint a picture of this insecurity.
The premise is profound – a tale on the edge of reality and dream, with lots of biblical symbolism. Having said that, Sideways (2017) is – unfortunately – a wasted potential. The film strongly reminisces the mannerism of Tarkovsky – his love for silence and steady camera. In Sideways (2017), many scenes are filled with that prolonged silence, whilst actors are all playing the same card. The screen fades to black every five minutes, causing the film to feel chaotic.
There is also something disturbingly false about Pirselimoglu’s film, as if the director had too many ideas going on in his head. The result is a film lacking in coherence, too opaque to most of the viewers. It could be a masterpiece, but ended up being a mediocre artsy piece.
Sideways (2017) – Culturally Loved or Hated?
A black-and-white film that can’t wade through its muddled symbolism and artistry, and therefore fails to deliver a clear and impactful message.
Director: Taifun Pirselimoglu
Original Title: Yol Kenari
Hate Grade: 5/10
Review published during Warsaw Film Festival.