Lifelong: Shadow cast by disintegration of love
by Fabien Lemercier
- After the widely noticed Men on the Bridge, Turkish director Asli Ozge confirms her potential with a second opus, in competition in Paris Cinéma
Very widely noticed with her first feature film Men on the Bridge [+see also:
interview: Asli Özge
film profile] (selected amongst others for Locarno and Toronto in 2009), Turkish director Asli Ozge confirms her potential with her second opus, Lifelong [+see also:
film profile], which was presented in the Panorama of the Berlinale 2013 and screened yesterday in competition at the 11th Paris Cinéma festival. Dealing with the classic topic of a couple falling apart, the filmmaker succeeds in masterfully imposing her delicate style, which is formally highly accomplished and enriched by a subtle perception of things left unsaid, the intensity of silences and the nuanced depths of facial expressions.
Ela (Defne Halman) and Can (Hakan Cimenser) are a couple in their forties, well-established in life. Living in the high-end neighbourhood of Nidantasi in Istanbul, they thrive in their respective jobs as a contemporary artist and architect, watching their daughter grow without any particular problems as she settles in Ankara, and loving each other as the opening scene seems to suggest. It's true that communication between them is minimal, but that is not uncommon for a pair who have been comfortable with their habits for a very long time. However, a shadow is looming and will materialise when Ela accidentally discovers her husband’s secret. What is it? Probably an affair, but the spectator will never know since Ela, who is suffering desperately, prefers to remain silent at first before making up her mind to hintingly admit to her husband (in appearance rather hermetic) that she knows. Certainties vanish and the threat of destruction overshadows the long life they had together...
Filmed very elegantly with fixed and panoramic shots, Lifelong skilfully plays with the glass structure and four floors of the modern house in which the couple lives. The coldness of the spaces (Can’s agency, the museum where Ela shows her work) echoes the loneliness of the protagonist, progressively plagued by the fear of the end (old age, the transience of being a desirable woman, the mirror of youth represented by her daughter etc…) but trying to keep her head up high in her social life. The inevitably slow pace of the plot does not affect its density, and it is in Ela’s features that one has to probe the variations in intensity of this psychological drama, which takes place in a climate of accentuated non-communication. By capturing with finesse what happens between the lines of life, Asli Ozge demonstrates a talent already well-affirmed and only awaiting a slightly more powerful subject to climb towards the top of the hierarchy of world cinema.
(Translated from French)