Review: ‘House of Hearts’

Danish-Turkish coprod is a warmly shot and felt tale of events that lead a hard-luck rural family toward European emigration in the late '60s. Second feature for Elisabeth Rygard and first for scenarist Yuksil Isik is a bit soft on momentum for extensive theatrical travel. Natural fest item could find niche biz in Euro cities with Turkish-heritage populations.

Danish-Turkish coprod “House of Hearts” is a warmly shot and felt tale of events that lead a hard-luck rural family toward European emigration in the late ’60s. Second feature for Elisabeth Rygard (nearly a quarter-century after her co-helmed 1975 feminist comedy “Take It Like a Man, Madam”) and first for scenarist Yuksil Isik is a bit soft on dramatic momentum for extensive theatrical travel. But it’s a natural fest item that could find niche biz in Euro cities with significant Turkish-heritage populations.

Tired of abuse from his spiteful father, musician Ali, his long-suffering wife and two small children strike out on their own, erecting a tent as temporary housing while building a more solid structure. But finishing it before winter is a challenge that gets Ali in debt. Series of disastrous events force him to consider becoming a guest worker in Denmark, where one fellow villager has prospered. Told from p.o.v. of son Osman (as recollected in somewhat awkward present-time sequences between elderly Ali and grown-up Osman), pleasant pic has lovely color lensing, much folk music, and nicely limned ensemble character dramas, though sum impact is nonetheless a tad slight.

House of Hearts

Denmark - Turkey

Production

A Zentropa Entertainments production in association with the Danish Film Institute, Icelandic Film Fund., Alfa Film and Constantin Films. Produced by Jens Arnoldus. Executive producer, Peter Aalbek Jensen. Directed by Elisabeth Rygard. Screenplay, Yuksil Isik.

Crew

Camera (color), Hans Welin; editor, Niels Pagh Andersen; music, Mazlum Cimen; production designer, Soren Skjaer. Reviewed at Mill Valley Film Festival, Oct. 10, 2003. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Bora Akkas, Gurol, Mazlum Cimen, Sebnem Kostern, Serra Yilmaz.
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