Two poor Kurdish lads in Istanbul dream of going to Germany to make their fortune in well-intentioned but one-note melodrama "Broken Mussels" from debuting Turkish helmer Seyfettin Tokmak.

Two poor Kurdish lads in Istanbul dream of going to Germany to make their fortune in the well-intentioned but one-note melodrama “Broken Mussels,” from debuting Turkish helmer Seyfettin Tokmak. Seemingly uncertain whether it wants to be contempo neorealism or a plucky children’s adventure, the screenplay by Kenan Kavut combines too many hot-button issues, some ill-timed comedy and not enough character development, leaving the film as stuck as its young protagonists. End result will have limited appeal to all but the least discriminating of fest audiences.

The story of cousins Hakim and Faysal intersects with other illegal immigrants’ in Istanbul’s Kumkapi quarter, in particular that of an ailing Bosnian teen (Ipek Kizilors), whose mother (Selma Alispahic) falls victim to an organ-trafficking gang. The boys, who long to sell mussels, unwittingly wind up working for sleazy Cevat (Engin Benli), the villain of the piece, who traffics in more than body parts. Awkward helming favors stagey setups and melodramatic performances, while the upbeat bluesy score from Swedish composer Fredrik Viklund creates an inappropriate mood. Only the misty waterfront locations strike the right note.

Broken Mussels

Turkey-Sweden-Bosnia-Herzegovina

Production

A +90 Film, Migma Film production with support from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Swedish Film Institute, the Post Republic in cooperation with SVT with the support of Cinelink, Eave. Produced by Serkan Cakarer, Lizette Jonjic. Directed by Seyfettin Tokmak. Screenplay, Kenan Kavut;

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Mehmet Zengin; editors, Cicek Kahraman, Ayhan Ergusel, Cem Yildrim; music, Fredrik Viklund. Reviewed at Sarajevo Film Festival (competing), July 26, 2011. (Also in Istanbul Film Festival, Turkish competition.) Running time: 94 MIN.

With

Ugur Baris Mehmetoglu, Seydo Celik, Selma Alispahic, Engin Benli, Ipek Kizilors, Enzo Ikah, Maria Akgulla. (Turkish, Kurdish, Bosnian, Congolese dialogue)

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