Özcan Alper’s adaptation and directed by Kemal Varol’s novel of the same name, “The Lovers’ Day” was released on Netflix. Settar Tanrıöğen and Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ share the lead roles in the film about the reunion and reckoning of father and son who have not seen each other for years. Moving from themes such as journey, meeting and reckoning, the film brings them together on the road and intersects them on the trail.
THE FATHER APPEARS AT A TERMINAL THRESHOLD AFTER A QUARTER CENTURY
Let’s briefly talk about the story before we evaluate the movie. Heves Ali (Settar Tanrıöğen) is a famous folk poet. His folk songs have crossed borders, been listened to with admiration all over the country, and raised generations. The lover, who won the hearts of people with his art and stance, could not make his son smile. One evening, he returns to Yusuf (Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ), whom he left 25 years ago. His illness is in the last stage, he was on his deathbed and tied up and appeared at his son’s door. He tells Kars that he will go to the traditional Lovers’ Festival. Its intention is a final farewell. It is clear from every aspect that he returned to say goodbye to his son.
Yusuf, on the other hand, experiences the loneliness of a quarter of a century and the surprise of seeing his father suddenly in front of him. He is a lawyer registered with the Kırşehir bar association, he is scorching in his own justice. It is understood that his social relations are weak and he cannot establish a family. A glass of raki that he comes home in the evening and a quiet and cold living room explains a lot.
Yusuf does not leave his father alone, he decides to take him to Kars. He will see a client in Erzurum and spend a few extra hours with his father, who is in his last moments. This journey is the expression of Heves Ali coming to terms with his past and keeping silent to his son.
PLASTIC NARRATIVE, BROKEN CONFLICT
I do not think that separating the content and the form will make our job easier when evaluating the “Feast of Lovers”. Because one is not more attentive than the other, one does not make up for the other’s deficiencies. I think that the literary work is handled more aesthetically, but the narrative presented to the audience is quite plastic: The journey of a minstrel and his son, whom he has not seen for 25 years… Wrapped in shiny wrapping paper like “25 years separation”, tied with a stylish thread like a “troubadour”, but even at first glance we are faced with an issue that does not attract attention, which does not belong to the audience. What did Netflix expect from this, I wonder? I wonder if it was acted because the journey story and father-son reckoning would hold? Let’s say the title attracted attention, the theme pleased the hearts; Isn’t that time to look at the repertoire? How did the “Feast of Lovers” handle this reunion, which was expected to evolve into a showdown? In general, there is a conflict in sleep… It might work if it is woken up at the right time and escalated, but the tension element remains insipid. Two main reasons can be attributed to the fact that the filmmaker, who wrote a strong story of reckoning like Autumn, and who listed mature examples in his filmography, faltered under a title he was not familiar with: “The Lovers’ Festival” was not well adapted and could not reveal itself.
I would like to specifically mention this failure. That’s what I meant by the repertoire. We don’t watch any side stories in the movie. There is no fork in the narrative, there is no break, there is an emotional intensity, but since no guide service is provided, we find and bring together the catharsis ourselves. Let’s go through all of them, isn’t a showdown movie that does not feed the conflict through different veins and combine it in a pool, lost from the beginning?
Lets continue. The dimmer in the theme is also reflected in the operation. Half an hour passes, an hour passes, what happens? We are watching the movie, the movie is watching us. A situation worthy of a folk poet! We can commemorate the famous lines of Kul Nesimi and make it fit the relationship between the audience and the film: “I go up to the sky, I watch the world/I go down to the earth, the world watches me.” The audience neither understands Yusuf nor Heves Ali… No, this result did not arise from an effort to stay close to them both, not to take sides. The film was designed as a flood of emotions with unmixed material, and we were compelled to follow whatever the flood brought and accumulated, whatever God gave. Well, couldn’t the idea of leaving everything to the audience be preferred? Of course it can, but we don’t watch a story that can be easily empathized with. Therefore, “Anatolian fathers are like this”, “masculine order” is like this; Somehow, the connection is established, it is unthinkable that the audience will peck at the crumbs of emotion! This doesn’t count because we watch the movie in our homes, not around the Yeni Mosque! Data must flow to us from somewhere; There should be gaps to fill. (If the Lovers’ Festival had claimed to be an “art film”, we would not have talked about it, of course.) Let’s see our story. Father is a lover, son is a lawyer. They haven’t seen each other for 25 years. The father is seriously ill, the son is overly emotional… It may be different, but the audience cannot internalize and analyze this composition without outside intervention. In the novel, which is stated to be the second of a trilogy, it is said that the character of Yusuf is deepened and the father-son relationship is drawn in detail, but for those who have not read the book like me, it is not easy to make comments or predictions about the characters.
HEVES ALI: HALALIZATION AND LOOKING AT THE NEARBY
For the audience, Yusuf is an acceptable character, more average. However, Heves Ali is not a father that we can pass on by saying “that’s how fathers are”, either because of his hard work or his coldness. Moreover, considering that the trilogy is built on him, it is understood how this character will cause problems if it is not elaborated. Unfortunately, we are watching a very superficial portrait of a lover. Heves Ali had to be drilled a little bit. Flashbacks are useless except to reinforce the main emotion. We do not see Heves Ali alone in any of them, so we are not convinced why he left. The only judgment we have come to is: Heves Ali was a flirtatious, licentious lover, and because he was in love with his main instrument, as in the movie, “his heart beats in a reed”, marriage seemed like a cage to him. It is also interesting that he is quite sure that the women he left behind will be waiting for him. Sure, the man has high self-confidence! But if he had not brought his son to Kars by car, he would not have been able to say goodbye to most of them. When we ask, “Is this the delicacy of a poet”, we rebel. Of course, we assume that these chapters also open in the novel.
The superficial and silent father figure is connected to the “toxic paternity” interpretation that I encountered in a few reactions to the movie. I don’t like any made-up concept that starts with toxic. But Heves Ali is a character who is at odds with today’s value judgments as if to say “I am toxic”, suitable to be used as a punching bag when necessary, and a rough man whose feet are not on the ground, but on hearts. A man who stole and stole and trampled the hearts he had won by silence. Connecting to today’s two popular discourses (toxicity and halalness) based on an Anatolian tradition is perhaps the only noteworthy aspect of the film… It can be written among the pluses that Heves Ali gives “the inability to pass the subject by looking at the near ones” instead of “the simplicity of looking away and getting lost” in his calmness. This attitude reveals that the effort to halal is a deception at its core. Heves Ali doesn’t just keep quiet, he bends his head and distracts. The fact that the one who intends to be halal prefers a victim position rather than taking prideful poses leads us to question his sincerity. We can say that the father seems more flawed than these two characters, who are not revealed even if they are not pointed correctly in the movie. Heves Ali is going to die by pretending to be dead. So why is this man, whose soul has been exhausted long ago, and who has admitted his fault, put under such a heavy burden as saying goodbye?
ROAD, INTENSIVE SCENES, ACTS
Lovers’ Feast is a road movie in the strict sense of the word, so much so that the road and life end up with it. The father whose death is expected dies, the son who cannot heal his wounds receives another blow. In a sense, even though it comes to an unpleasant end, the road reaches its goal and leaves its passengers to their destination. However, it is not seen that a road does not reach its purpose, so it would not be fair to write this saturation in the name of ingenuity. We can say that Alper’s film is a “correct road movie in theory” and add: What is it that the luggage is not packed, the stops and resting places are not arranged? For example, gas was not taken from a good station, “captain middle door” was not called, for example. In short, when the film, which has a very weak state and course, is taken to the road in the context of genre, the miracle does not happen and the hope hoped for from the journey cannot save the narrative. In any case, the silent romance of the father-son relationship and the dynamism of the last journey do not match. You know, if all the reckoning had not been settled, could we have watched a more sedate movie? Or would the story have been saved if they hadn’t turned this journey into a strange ceremony where mutual silence and grave-to-grave visits were made? Maybe…
Let’s leave the possibilities aside and continue to examine what has happened and what has died. There are several intense scenes in the movie. Some of these scenes are intense from the text, while others are intended to be intense. For example, when the police translation is reflected in the dialogues, it is a striking scene because it carries the ambiguity of the conversation/communication. A showdown may spill on the paper. Father and son are silent here, the police are talking. However, it is difficult to make this scene visually strong because father and son do not move from the line they settled in throughout the movie. They will shine in a short time, which will be the catharsis we like from catharsis! In addition, there is the “Reunion with the Lovers’ Day”, which was intended to be striking, but it did not happen. Unlike his father, Yusuf’s inability to have a relationship with the opposite sex, and the fact that Heves Ali’s “women” are treated as the ambiguous object of desire, and on the one side on the floor of a trinket or corner cushion, also eliminates the male-female communication in the film. While a concentrated sequence could not be captured in a movie with such an emotional feel, it should be noted that the scene where the ambulance convoy flowed with the Orient Express also presents a composition about folk poets. The water is flowing, the convoy is flowing, the train is flowing and the beds are strange, the roads are observed, the hands are on the flank in the boarding schools, the eyes stay moist.
The series of the film and of course the problems in its node also affected the acting. Let’s start with Settar Tanrıöğen. Tanrıöğen is a master player. In the last period of her career, she transitioned from “I bought a twin bed, Züleyha, come to me, let’s try” to a light folk poet, to a double roasted Anatolian. This transition causes them to take similar roles. If we say it for “The Lovers’ Festival”, we see that it brings an interesting interpretation to his acting. This time, Tanrıöğen played by not playing, and this is how he filled the “criminal father” figure. That’s why he looks closer instead of far away. She’s having the emotion. It may seem strange at first that the acting was not wasted in the film that spilled in many respects, but in a narrative that does not describe how to act, the actor can succeed if he figures out how not to act. In Alper’s film, Tanrıöğen has solved the secret of the problem by adopting a silence suitable for the image drawn for him.
It is possible to make a similar assessment for Tatlıtuğ. Of course, the actor wanted to reduce his handsomeness with thin-frame glasses. Also the robes are sewn. Fortunately, there are no material scars this time, spiritual scars are enough! We understand from the reproach of Yusuf, played by Tatlıtuğ, that he had a difficult childhood and longed for love; He observed the way, but forgot to object. In this context, we can attribute their out-of-way exits and their inability to explode to this forgetfulness and alienation. “Father” is not familiar to him, he is trying to get to know but also to hold accountable. On the other hand, he is jealous of his father’s love. It hurts that Heves Ali does not say goodbye to the women he loves and leaves him a last word, regardless of whether they are dead or alive. Tatlıtuğ, who has done his best in this emotional turmoil, to be more precise, in this emotional terror… We watch a child who can’t look him in the eye, cling to his collar and ask for an account, a 39-year-old boy who has grown up and disappeared, trapped in his body.
‘Lovers’ Holiday’ IS ALREADY AN UNLOCKED FILM
“The Lovers’ Feast” tried to approach a severely damaged father-son relationship by upholding an Anatolian tradition. To what extent he succeeded is debatable, we tried to discuss it as much as possible. However, it is necessary to emphasize this once again while closing the words: Diving and adapting the narrative, which is a trilogy, caused a lot of problems in the script, that’s for sure. Above all, we are watching a film that does not reveal itself and does not explain itself. This effort resembles the enthusiasm of Heves Ali; enthusiastic but discreet… The lover’s friend Kul Yakup (Erkan Can) says in one scene that “daddy is an unfinished word”. We understand that, but if you didn’t leave the movie unfinished, what was the sin of the movie!