We get the unexpected, reinforcing one of the key themes of the film: expect the unexpected, and how to live with the expectations we have of relationships when they don’t always turn out the way we want.
Genre: A play, with a side dish of romance
Lead actors: Dilan Çiçek Deniz and Metin Akdülger
Production detail: It is the first Netflix feature movie made in Turkey
Where to watch with English subs: Netflix
Two strangers meet unexpectedly on a train travelling from Ankara to Izmir (14 hours) and discover they are both en route to stop the same wedding, each for their own reasons. At one level, this is a simple story dealing with what we are prepared to give up in order to move forward. At a more complicated level it reveals some unanticipated insights into love, pain, hope and the assumptions and misjudgements we make of strangers.
The plot is taken from an award winning Swedish film, ‘How to Stop a Wedding’ written by Drazen Kuljanin and its strength lies in the way it reaches its unexpected ending. The Turkish rendition is adapted by Faruk Ozerten, who is also a co-producer.
The storyline is maintained through a number of clever devices and arguably romantic metaphors: surprises/expectations about or from our loved ones, real and romantic baggage, an actual and a metaphorical journey, the deletion/remembrance of pain and photographic footage and finally, what is seen and not seen through different lenses.
Time and space are crucial to the development of the narrative and travellers’ relationship, and the movie is presented in episodic scenes where different things happen in different spaces on the train: the compartment, the seats, the dining car, the countryside outside and the corridors of the train.
The music as always in Turkish films is meaningful and well selected. Songs give us additional information about what is happening to our protagonists. Both travellers are connected to music as Ali plays in a band and Leyla is a violinist, reinforcing the importance of music. Particularly the lyrics from the songs add significantly to the development of the screenplay.
Dilan, as Leyla, is solid and plays a credible, hurt and initially very antagonistic young woman. Dilan looks dishevelled, but she is confident in her acting, and although not portrayed as beautifully as her role in Cukur, she manages to convey depths of suffering for her role in the story. Dilan is well-known to Cukur fans, having played Sena in Seasons 1 & 2, to mixed acclaim. In this movie, her character develops substantially throughout the story, encouraged by her almost philosophical, possibly lonely, but gentle co-pilgrim, Ali, played by Metin Akdülger.
He would be known to NATEN members as the initial love interest of Beren Saat, Ozan, in Atiye and he delivers a very sensitive and thoughtful counterpoint to this aggressive, unhappy young woman. His portrayal as a vulnerable, not macho male character is very well done.
The film triumphs in the dialogue. The episodic scenes are like those in a play. Each episode provides a fast-paced, dialogic exchange. The travellers’ initial conversation (particularly on the part of Leyla) is antagonistic, aggressive and the repartee reveals a lot of pain and anger on behalf of both travellers. The tone of their exchanges shifts dramatically when more is revealed about their past lives and loves and resolves when Ali quotes some lines of poetry which Layla completes. This mutual love of poetry signals the end of the harsh, interrogative nature of their earlier discussions as they discover their mutual passion for words.
Time and space are important in the dialogue. The different spaces, like set changes, reinforce the play-like nature of the dialogue, where different conversations happen in the corridors, in the train compartment, out in the foggy field when the train stops, in the dining car, in Izmir. We get the unexpected, reinforcing one of the key themes of the film: expect the unexpected, and how to live with the expectations we have of relationships when they don’t always turn out the way we want.
On IMDB, I see that this film has divided viewers. I am also personally divided as I really don’t like it the first time I watch it but find it really very good on my re-watch.
On reflection, I like the way the surprises/expectations address why these two travelers are heading to the same destination and the way in which the unfolding narrative turns their and our expectations upside down. With both travellers losing/ditching their baggage, I get the metaphorical implication of both young people leaving behind unhappier memories. As strangers, they each seek to forget/delete their unhappy memories (although can’t do so completely) and delete/keep footage they share together.
Through extensive conversational exchanges, each is instrumental in revealing surprises about the other that allows them to re-evaluate expectations they both have of each other and of their earlier relationships. The use of glasses, dark ones and flashing neon ones, gives these travellers and us, insights into new ways of looking at – a different lens into – their pasts and their futures. As they travel on this real and metaphorical journey together, they are forced to deal with the painful passage of time and the spaces that recreate them. Finally, the binary title: one way (ticket), or one way (to a new life); or one way to (a new) tomorrow makes clever use of the destination and its implications for the future.
If you are in the mood for a slow, cinematic, play like experience, I recommend that you give the movie a try.
Author rating: 6.5/10
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