Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 11, 1999. German and Turkish dialogue. Running time: 72 MIN.
With: Tamer Yigit, Idil Uner, Birol Unel, Hussi Kutlucan, Lea Stefanel.
Cool yet cliched, this pensive follow-up to Thomas Arslan’s 1996 “Siblings” continues his promised trilogy on Turkish youth in Berlin with a chapter on the efforts of the title hood to make a better life for himself. Strongly reminiscent of Nick Gomez’s “illtown” but stripped of its more fanciful elements , “Dealer” has a spare, narcotic elegance that could give it appeal to fests tolerant of the milieu.
Can is a low-level drug runner in the Schoeneberg district, mulingfor the thuggish Hakan while trying to placate his exasperated girlfriend, Jale, enduring police pressure and puzzling a way out of a trade he knows is wrong. When the promise of managing a bar falls through after Hakan is gunned down, Jale leaves with their daughter and Can takes a dishwashing job, only to be busted by crusading cop Erdal and threatened with deportation. Unafraid of long takes and tableaux, Arslan injects his simple yet resonant story with an energy born of inarticulate frustration, as Can’s honest but short-sighted attempts to break free speak eloquently, if predictably, to a very real problem.