In a village nestled within the wintry landscape of the East Anatolia region of Turkey, an art teacher named Samet (Deniz Celiloglu) is struggling through what he hopes to be his final year at an elementary school. Already tiring of the unforgiving environment, where he has been assigned by the government’s public education system, Samet is further disillusioned and frustrated after a young girl in his class, Sevim, appears to accuse him of inappropriate behavior. The only light on the horizon for Samet is his growing friendship with—and clear attraction to—a teacher from a nearby school, Nuray (Merve Dizdar), a sharp, politically engaged woman unafraid to put the self-involved Samet in his place for his general apathy and narcissism. The latest deeply philosophical drama from Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, NYFF49) is a work of elegant, novelistic filmmaking, rigorously unpacking questions of belief versus action, the tangible versus the enigmatic, and who we wish to be versus how we live. A centerpiece conversation between Samet and Nuray—capped off by a provocative metacinematic flourish—ranks with Ceylan’s greatest sequences, and Dizdar, who won the Best Actress prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, commands every second she’s on screen. A Sideshow/Janus Films release.
Recommended Film Comment reading:
- The Film Comment Podcast: About Dry Grasses (Cannes 2023)
- On Making The Wild Pear Tree
- The Big Screen: The Wild Pear Tree
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