Friday, February 21, 2014

Film on Friday #10 - Watchtower

The tenth entry in the Film on Friday series is Watchtower from Turkish director Pelin Esmer. As with all Film Movement releases, it is an official selection or winner at multiple film festivals.

Nihat has taken a job as a fire warden, scanning the forest from an isolated tower high in the mountains. From the opening scenes, with his walk, his facial expressions and more, he telegraphs a sadness, a loss. The viewer senses that he wants to be alone, that this isolated job will let him escape somehow.

Seher is a young woman who has taken a job as a bus hostess and is living in a small room at the rest stop. Her loneliness is also telegraphed with few words. She looks through pictures, picks up the phone to call someone, leaving only a vague message. Again, the viewer just knows that there is more to her story - that the bus stop is for her an escape as well.

Nihat comes down the mountain for supplies and stops for tea at the restaurant. It is inevitable that the two meet. Each is indeed hiding something and their lives reluctantly become intertwined. We discover the reason each has retreated from life and watch as their lives are inexorably drawn together.

There is little dialogue in Watchtower, rather it's the silence that speaks volumes, underlining the theme of isolation. The use of walkie talkies by the fire wardens was an effective device to underscore Nihat's isolation and the need to connect, to unburden, to share and to be part of a society.

The background of the film is spectacular. The views from the watchtower are breath taking. I wonder if the house used was an actual warden station or if it was built for the film? I quite liked it and pictured myself living at the top of the mountain!

I watched the ending more that once, deciding if it was what I wanted. And it was. This is one of my favourite films so far, one I would easily recommend. 2012 / Turkish with English subtitles / 100 min

As always, there's a short film included as a bonus. This time it's a 17 minute film from Greece called The Foreigner. A small village needs to up their population in order to keep receiving services from the state. When a tourist wanders into town, they try to convince him to stay. This short was excellent! A full story played out in very short time, with a fun plot, an excellent lead and beautiful scenery as well. ( I think I could live here as well!)

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