Tatil Kitabi (Summer Book)




PARIS -- Turkish first-time director Seyfi Teoman captures both the charm of what it means to be a child during summer vacation and an overwhelming feeling of grief in "Summer Book." His work should please viewers on the festival circuit.

Set in a not so touristic coastal town of Anatolia, the story follows Ali (Tayfun Gunay), a school kid experiencing one of those summers that make children grow up fast.

A classmate has stolen a schoolbook from Ali that he must read during the summer. His attempt to find another copy is reminiscent of Abbas Kiarostami's early works like "Where Is the Friend's Home?" Soon the film gives space to other characters: His parents quarrel over the supposed affair of the father. His uncle comes to help after the father has a stroke. An elder brother would like to quit military school.

The slow pace of the film, mainly structured so its characters are moving -- whether they walk, drive or take the bus -- calls for contemplation. So does the very fine camerawork, catching the unmistakable Mediterranean summer light.

What "Book" lacks is captivating storytelling. Teoman obviously wanted to give his film an everyday touch as even the most dramatic events occur without undue emphasis. A follower of Turkish master Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Teoman has made a charming though low-key film that displays a promising new talent.