Fast and furious female bonding is the energy driving “2 Girls” to rail against their elders and just about everything else in Istanbul. Kutlug Ataman’s first feature since 1998’s “Lola + Bilidikid” is a refreshing slice of contemporary Turkish life that enhances the director’s rep as a sympathetic observer of the disaffected. Pic opened to mostly positive reviews and solid box office locally in April and could have a career as a crowd-pleasing fest item with a few theatrical dents offshore. An English translation of the source novel is set for October.
Behiye (newcomer Feride Cetin) is a firebrand with a shock of vermillion-colored hair, flaming purple lipstick and a temper to match. In between arguments with her traditional parents and the torments of her conservative brother, she’s a university slacker with little faith in education and a chip on her shoulder as big as the Blue Mosque.
Handan (Vildan Atasever), an apparently ditzy blond, has a love-hate relationship with her single mother, Leman (Hulya Avsar). In the film’s attention-grabbing first scene, Leman is seen pleasuring a married benefactor in the hope of securing her daughter’s university fees. Main conflict in this household centers on mom’s preference for spending money on beauty products while ignoring grocery needs.
Snappily sketched central characters are brought together by mutual friend Cigdem (Tugce Tamer). From here to final curtain, the screenplay keenly taps into the thrill of instantaneous “new-best-friend” relationships that are overwhelmingly the preserve of youth.
Pact is sealed when Behiye runs away from home to live with Handan. Soon they’re riding in cars with horny boys and engaging in sundry mischief. Fast-and-loose storytelling also carries some darker concerns in its slipstream, such as Handan’s first sexual experiences and her sorrow over her father’s long-ago disappearance to Australia.
Despite a few repetitious scenes midway, Ataman pulls off this arresting look at troubled youth. Cetin is a knockout in the flashier role, and Atasever impressively peels back the layers on the supposedly superficial Handan. Respected thesp Avsar is tops as the fading beauty on the prowl for a sugar daddy.
Gritty lensing, heavy on closeups, by Emre Erkman and a crunching rock score by local band Replikas are standouts in a pro tech package.