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Love in Another Language

"Love in Another Language" incorporates all manner of serious subjects without skipping an upbeat.

An aggressively bright and cheerful romantic comedy about deafness, political protests and chronic agoraphobia, “Love in Another Language” incorporates all manner of serious subjects without skipping an upbeat. Though never trivializing nor completely dismissive of trauma, Turkish femme helmer Ilksen Basarir’s tyro outing nonetheless lets no obstacle hold sway over its heroine’s energetic optimism and sexy joie de vivre. Strong thesping by attractive leads and assured, snappy pacing keep the romance moving briskly, deftly freeing disability from the iron bars of melodrama. Still, this likable comedy appears too lightweight to pass the language barrier.

When Zeynep (Saadet Aksoy) first meets Onur (co-scenarist Mert Firat) during a birthday celebration, she has no clue that he is deaf as they companionably share beers and gesture to be understood amid the noisy revelry. When she discovers the truth, her reaction is revelatory: After a slight hesitation, she leaps into Onur’s arms, exclaiming she has found the perfect man — one who can’t talk back.

There is something “Amelie”-like about Zeynep’s nonstop optimism, albeit in a less magical, more naturalistic vein. She bravely leads her co-workers at a telemarketing concern in a protest against exploitative working conditions. She rescues her agoraphobic neighbor’s crumpled poems from an airshaft and finds a way to cure him.

Of course, Zeynep and Onur’s relationship hits some bumpy patches. Friends and family on each side vigorously oppose the match, out of overprotectiveness, prejudice or both. The first time the pair make love, Zeynep suddenly springs up and leaves, dismayed by Onur’s loud, amorous grunts and groans. Onur finds it difficult to follow what’s being said in overlapping conversations, while Zeynep experiences the same alienation during flurries of sign language. But the chemistry between the two lovers credibly and dynamically overcomes these setbacks. Indeed, their inventive methods of communication increasingly give their exchanges a certain exotic delight.

Helmer Basarir occasionally resorts to the usual soppy montages to time-lapse the couple’s synergy, a cliched gimmick partly redeemed by the fact that the two often interact in pantomime anyway. She also uses Onur’s deafness to comic or dramatic effect, pointedly foregrounding or backgrounding actions that escape his notice.

Tech credits are pro without coming across as overly slick. Hayk Kirakosyan’s lensing pumps up the brightness, while Hakan Yarkin’s production design strikes whimsical notes.

Love in Another Language

Turkey

  • Production: A Medyavizyon release of an Ofis Istanbul by PPR, Kutu Film presentation of a Tonaj production. Produced by N. Bunhan Bengi, M. Murat Senoy. Co-producers, Cihat Bakir, Merthan Yalcin. Directed by Ilksen Basarir. Screenplay, Mert Firat, Basarir.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Hayk Kirakosyan; editor, Arzu Volkan; music, Ugur Akyurek, Erdem Yoruk; production designer, Hakan Yarkin; costume designer, Ekin Kohen; sound (Dolby Digital), Murat Celikkol; casting, Seren Kohen. Reviewed at New York Turkish Film Festival, Dec. 11, 2010. Running time: 94 MIN.
  • With: With: Saadet Aksoy, Mert Firat, Emre Karayel, Lale Mansur, Sebnem Kostem, Gizem Erden, Tugrul Telek.
  • Music By: