Frenzy: The enclosed world of paranoia
by Sabine Kues
- VENICE 2015: Caught up in conspiracy theories, two brothers seem to be crushed by political polarisation in Emin Alper's second feature, which is screening in competition at Venice
The film unfolds on the outskirts of Istanbul while the city is haunted by multiple terrorist bombings. Since the government seems to be clueless about the perpetrators, they set up a secret group of informants to collect evidence. One of the informants is Kadir (Mehmet Özgür): imprisoned for 20 years, he is granted early parole to join this secret investigation. By working as a rubbish collector, he is trained to search for traces of substances used in assembling bombs. After two decades in jail, Kadir is suddenly released into a world he does not understand, a world where people are driven by their anxieties and where street blockades are commonplace. He settles down in the neighbourhood of his youngest brother, Ahmet (Berkay Ateş), who works for the municipality shooting stray dogs. While Kadir is trying to build up a relationship with his brother, the latter, who has just recently been abandoned by his family, withdraws into his own world. Ahmet is recoiling from society, ironically taking in a stray dog that he injured himself whilst on patrol, and not only develops a strong bond with him, but is also overcome with an immense fear of loss. Swamped by this anxiety of being found out, he sees a threat in everything and everyone. The other brother, meanwhile, is put under pressure to find evidence – a pressure that eventually leads him to see evidence all around him, even in the people dearest to him.
Alper paints a dark scenario of mistrust and conspiracy that culminates in a state of paranoia. As the tension rises and the police presence in the neighbourhood reaches a new climax, the brothers become lost in what is real and which of their perceptions are merely tricks played by their imagination. The narrative of the film gets more and more caught up in this sensation of suspicion. The subjective perspectives, regardless of chronology, jump back and forth between the perceptions of the brothers. Just like the two men, the viewer is lost in what is real and what is not. Scenes are retold from different angles, thereby questioning the events anew. The soundscape adds to this portrayal of insanity, with the piercing sounds of telephones and doorbells ringing nonstop and driving the viewers mad as well. A feeling of being trapped and the impression of enclosure are achieved through haunting images as Ahmet, already in distress, looks out of the window and sees the shadow of a man standing on his roof. Once he reaches the rooftop, there is no one there.
Alper says of his film that “it shows how the political system turns 'little men' into the cogs of its violent mechanism by providing them with authority and the instruments of violence, which in the end turn against them and lead to their destruction”. In Frenzy, it is not only the terrorist bombings that are destructive, but also the political machinery that sows the seeds of fear and mistrust, ultimately giving way to the need to seek answers in conspiracy theories.
The world sales of this Turkish-French co-production are handled by The Match Factory.