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Majority

A schlubby young man struggles with self-definition under the shadow of his authoritarian father.

A schlubby young man from a wealthy background struggles with self-definition under the shadow of his authoritarian father in so-so Turkish drama “Majority,” a debut for writer-helmer Seren Yuce (formerly assistant director on productions like Fatih Akin’s “The Edge of Heaven”). With its oblique storytelling, urban setting, and grubby sex, the pic shares aesthetic DNA with some of the arthouse work being done by the currently hot territory’s bigger names, although occasional humorous moments suggest Yuce may have a lighter sensibility. However, “Majority’s” listless script will ensure only a small minority will catch this pic offshore.

All his life, protag Mertkan (Bartu Kucukcaglayan) has been psychologically bullied by his bearish father Kemal (Settar Tanriogen), a big shot in an Istanbul construction agency. Now 21, and having failed to launch, Mertkan still lives at home with his tellingly unnamed, long-suffering mom (Nihal Koldas) and dad. He has a token job at Kemal’s firm, although he slacks off whenever possible to hang with his friends, all spoiled rich kids like himself. A perpetual screw-up who often lies out of cowardice, Mertkan brings to mind an older, Turkish version of AJ from “The Sopranos.”

Pretty waitress Gul (Esme Madra) takes an unaccountable but genuine shine to Mertkan, and after much stalling on his part, the two start dating. Gul, who’s derogatorily described as a “gypsy” by Mertkan’s friend Ersan (Ilhan Hacifazlioglu) but whose ethnicity is never specified onscreen (pic’s press notes describe her as Kurdish), has run away from her hometown Van, near the Armenian border in order to escape suffocating tradition back home and get a college degree. But when Kemal, who despises “those people who only want to divide our country,” gets wind of the romance, he orders Mertkan to break up with her. A glimmer of defiance begin to spark in Mertkan, but it may be too little too late.

Lead thesp Kucukcaglayan manages the impressive feat of making the vacillating, weaselly Mertkan likable, and rest of the cast is likewise strong, but Yuce’s script doesn’t give anyone anywhere to go. Auds wait in vain for some catalyzing event to set some proper drama in motion; instead, action mostly consists of wryly observed domestic scenes, tinged occasionally by comedy, for instance when Mertkan puts in a hopeless effort at picking up girls in a nightclub.

Tech credits are adequate but nothing special. A 10 minute trim on the 108-minute run time would improve the otherwise languid atmosphere.

Majority

Turkey

  • Production: A Yeni Sinemacili production. (International sales: The Match Factory, Cologne.) Produced by Sevil Demirci, Onder Cakar. Directed, written by Seren Yuce.
  • Crew: Camera (color,), Baris Ozbicer; editor, Mary Stephen; art director, Merel Efe; sound (Dolby Digital), Mustafa Bolukbasi; assistant director, Ahmet Yilmaz. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Venice Days), Sept. 1, 2010. (Also in Toronto Film Festival -- City to City.) Running time: 108 MIN.
  • With: With: Bartu Kucukcaglayan, Settar Tanriogen, Nihal Koldas, Esme Madra, Erkan Can, Ilhan Hacifazlioglu, Guzide Balci.
  • Music By: