Can: Sundance Film Review


World Dramatic Competition

Tale of a doomed adoption is a confusing downer but offers some intrigue.

The depressing Turkish drama follows a couple's unsuccessful attempts at child-rearing against eye-pleasing cinematography.

Park City — A sad, strange fable about a couple's compulsion to procreate, Tamer Ç?ray's Can has rough patches but gets more involving as it goes along. The Turkish import (the first to be in the World Dramatic competition here, the director says) should find admirers on the fest circuit and could draw a modest audience in an arthouse release.

When young, kid-hungry couple Cemal and Ay?e (Serdar Orçin and Selen Uçer) learn he can't father children, Cemal feels it's a reflection on his manhood. He convinces Ay?e to adopt, padding her dresses for nine months so the boy will appear to be their natural child. But while he adores the boy they get, she refuses to love it for reasons that are never explained. Perhaps, while the most important thing for him is to appear to be a biological father, what she desires is the actual experience of pregnancy.

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In any event, after a year of frustration with his wife's deeply sour moods, Cemal leaves them both. He marries a beautiful rich girl, and when she becomes pregnant he knows just how uncommitted she is to the marriage. Years later Cemal is raising another man's daughter while his wife cuckolds him, and Ay?e, barely scraping by, is leaving her son Can to fend for himself all day in the park while she works as a floorscrubber.

Oddly, Çelikezer inserts little glimpses of this future into the film's first act, giving no clues to his chronology-hopping. For much of the time we're watching the cute six year-old Can (Yusuf Berkan Demirba?) loiter on park benches and shoplift produce, we don't realize he's the infant the couple are in the process of adopting. The confusing structure isn't helped by the film's subtitles, which are badly translated and hard to read.

Ay?e's perpetual bad mood makes her fairly unsympathetic -- her face is an off-putting stone frown, and a scene's action has to be fairly dramatic to make watching her feel worthwhile. Can is a cutie, but the script never gives him much of a personality. Fortunately, things do get more interesting in the film's second half, and Ali Özel's rich cinematography is eye-pleasing throughout.

Venue: Sundance Film Festival, World Cinema Dramatic Competition

Production Company: Defne Film Prodüksiyon

Cast: Selen Uçer, Serdar Orçin, Yusuf Berkan Demirba?, Erkan Avc?, Serhat Nalbanto?lu, ?dil Yener, Erdal Cindoruk, Cengiz Bozkurt, Zeynep Yalç?n, Güray Görkem, Kür?at Aln?aç?k, Sait Genay

Director-Screenwriter-Producer: Ra?it Çelikezer

Director of photography: Ali Özel

Music: Tamer Ç?ray

Costume designer: Sevda Cevik

Editor: Ahmet Can Çak?rca

Sales: Defne Film Prodüksiyon,

No rating, 106 minutes