A commanding perf by Sevket Emrulla transforms engaging Turkish meller “Hayde bre” from an above-average cross-generational drama into something truly memorable. Written and directed by vet lenser turned helmer Orhan Oguz, pic burns slowly but is always watchable, whether it’s focusing on Macedonian village rituals or the streets of Istanbul, en route to a finale that liberal-leaning auds may find confrontational. Two awards at the Shanghai film fest (for picture and actor) should boost Oguz’s international profile; domestically, “Hayde bre” performed modestly at the B.O. as an arthouse release.
In Istanbul, Macedonian-born Saadet (Nilufer Acikalin) struggles to raise her 10-year-old son, Orhan (Ayberk Kocar), and younger twin daughters Emine (Ay Doga Vardar) and Cemile (Cagla Su Vardar), since her husband, Osman (Ertan Saban), is completely paralyzed and living elsewhere. When Emine is found sleepwalking in an alley by neighbor and political activist Ev (Mehmet Esen) in the middle of the night, Saadet mistakes the neighbor’s concern for a perverse interest in Emine. But she soon forgets Ev when she takes her son back to Macedonia for his ritual circumcision the next day.
In her native village, scenes of the ritual unfold while Saadet’s mother (Ilker Inanoglu) complains that her cash-strapped daughter could have married a rich local man. Meanwhile, the villagers gossip about the flirtation between a gypsy woman (Suzan Kardes) and Saadet’s aging stepfather, Sabanaga (Emrulla).
When her mother dies suddenly, Saadet invites the grieving Sabanaga to join her and her children in Istanbul. Pic’s second half centers on Sabanaga’s Istanbul experiences and his frustration with the big city and Saadet’s lifestyle.
Before the film returns to Turkey, Oguz’s script feels as if it could wander off in any direction at any time; helming likewise never settles on a single style until that point. A subplot involving Ev’s political activism figures prominently in the final reels; his tragic fate could be read as symbolic punishment for his ideological sympathies, though Oguz never reconciles the character’s dramatic purpose with his emblematic function.
Perfs vary, but the film belongs to Macedonian thesp Emrulla, who brings an authentic stillness to his depiction of a frustrated old man, bamboozled by urban life and his stepdaughter’s erratic ways. The 68-year-old theater-lighting technician, making his acting debut here, garnered the Shanghai jury’s actor prize for his gritty, uncompromising portrait.
Tech credits are mixed, and the Macedonian scenes seem to have been filmed on a tight budget. Turkish title is an exasperated exclamation that roughly translates as, “Enough already!”