IFFR Review: The Cemil Show

DIRECTED BY

Barış Sarhan

STARRING

Ozan Çelik, Nesrin Cavadzade, Alican Yücesoy, Basar Alemdar, Fuat Kökek and Cezmi Baskin

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SYNOPSIS

Cemil Uslu, a wannabe actor auditions for the villain role in a film. He can’t get the role but the role gets him.

Long-suffering mall cop Cemil auditions for the bad guy role in a remake of a Turkish B-movie from the 1960’s from the so-called Yeşilçam era. Even while teaming up with a female colleague whose father played the vintage bad guy, Cemil doesn’t have a chance in hell. A true underdog, he keeps pushing for the role until the role gets him.

The Cemil Show is a film adaptation of the short film of the same name written and directed by Baris Sarhan, who also makes his directorial feature debut here. Set in Istanbul, Turkey, the film focuses on Cemil who works as a cop at a mall in the city whilst also auditioning for the main villain role for a planned remake that was originally portrayed by an actor he idolises, Turgay Göral. As Cemil learns that one of his colleagues, Burcu, is not only having an affair with their boss Mr. Zafer, he also learns that she is the daughter of Göral. As Cemil goes down the road of blackmailing Burcu in order to meet his hero, he also goes down a path of isolation and obsession as he wants the role so bad that he starts to become consumed by it.

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Cemil is the kind of underdog on paper that you should root for, the man that’s chasing a dream that they seem out of reach and everyone practically walks over him, belittles him and his ambitions. But over the course of the film, it’s clear for the audience to see that Cemil is cracking under the pressure of his own ambitions, whilst also not seeming to understand the concept of personal spaces. It’s an interesting character study of a loner looking to land a role so badly, he ends up living his life as said character, from mannerisms such as how he walks and how he talks, right down to quoting lines from his films. Ozan Çelik gives an impressive performance as Cemil, who the film rests entirely on his shoulders and his charismatic yet desolate range certainly heightens the story the film is looking to tell.

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The film is confidently directed by Barış Sarhan, with some good cinematography by Soykut Turan, particularly in how they intersect the black-and-white film sequences with the colour in the present Istanbul landscape, which are well edited together by Evren Luis. Unfortunately the story feels stretched out with the films runtime of an hour and forty minutes, which is layered with the sub-plot involving Nesrin Cavadzade’s Burcu. I understood its reason for being in the film, but I didn’t find it half as interesting as following Cemil and his arc, and for Cemil to get to where he is by the final act takes way too long. Also the film has a certain comedic, dark humour streak to it that can either fall flat or feel slightly misplaced.

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VERDICT

Barış Sarhan’s The Cemil Show is an interesting directorial feature debut, with a good performance by Ozan Çelik as a man whose obsession to become someone else consumes him. Unfortunately the film faltered for me when we weren’t following Cemil.

★★½