On paper, “Two Women” looks like a sure-fire winner. With a plot centering on the friendship between a high-priced prostitute and the wife of the politician who raped her, it promises to tackle Turkish machismo, class-crossing feminism and government corruption at one go. Result, however, is a sudsy mess, obscuring as many issues as it raises.
Triple-hatted filmmaker Yavuz Ozkan first establishes the inarguable niceness of the lead character, played by European-looking Zuhal Olcay: she has a calm, art-filled house and dotes on her sweet little daughter, who’s doubly handicapped since she’s blind and her voice is obviously dubbed by a goo-goo-talking adult.
Then, quicker than you can say Lesley Ann Warren, Olcay’s being led to the hotel lair of hotshot minister Haluk Bilginer. When the embarrassed politico tries to cancel their “date,” she taunts him relentlessly until he responds with an inevitable, if highly unpleasant, rebuttal. Without examining her own ambiguous motives — entirely lost on Ozkan — she decides to sue the minister for sexual assault, becoming a tabloid cause celebre, and causing her aged father to actually say, “Where did we go wrong?”
The politico uses all his slick skills to wriggle out of the growing scandal, while his dignified, too-sheltered wife (Serap Aksoy) is increasingly unimpressed by his machinations. After a seeming eternity, she seeks out Olcay for some heart-to-heart talks, complete with a coyly implied lesbian undercurrent (mainly, Aksoy wears slacks).
Considering the serious “no-means-no” subject, especially in the context of a developing Islamic culture, pic is a curiously timeless, placeless mishmash, played for glossy sentiment more than social comment. Thesping and lensing are OK (even if both go out of focus on occasion), but the best scenes are crushed by a hideous synthesizer score, credited to the Muzikotek library, and edited with a blunt cleaver. Even among open-minded festgoers, “Two Women” can’t expect much respect.