Updated: May 28
Shared with permission
Guilt, remorse, forgiveness, redemption, and love, all play a central role in “Sadece Sen,” a modern romantic epic that is enthralling, at every turn. A Turkish remake of the Korean film “Always,” “Sadece Sen” follows the love story that develops between Ali (Ibrahim Celikkol), a former boxer with a dark past, and Hazal (Belcim Bilgin), a benevolent blind woman.
They fortuitously meet when Hazal takes her regular trip to her uncle's workplace to give him one of her home-cooked meals. Unbeknownst to her, her uncle has left his job, and Ali is his replacement. Both lonely, and in need of companionship, Hazal continues her usual trips to her uncle’s work. Much to Ali’s confusion, and slight frustration, as he craves his isolation for a self-imposed exile.
Not letting that stop her, Hazal diligently begins chipping away at Ali's icy exterior, and she starts to succeed, eventually befriending him. As their friendship deepens, so does their bond. Little do they know, fate has other plans for them, as Ali's past starts to catch up with their potential future in unexpected ways.
“Sadece Sen” is a drama loaded with suspense and plot twists, galore. It is also a movie that readily registers as one of cinema's most romantic entries. That is because "Sadece Sen" possesses everything romance enthusiasts go into a romantic drama, hoping to see, and seldom do.
A story that is raw, and sincere with huge dramatic stakes. Unlike film’s traditional central protagonists, both of “Sadece Sen’s” are likable, and loyal. These are characters you root for, from beginning to end. They earn it separately, and then together.
Ali and Hazal are rare protagonists. They are honest, humble, and haunted. They save each other in remarkable ways that help both of them grow as people. They both tend to each other, strengthening one another as time goes by. They rely on each other, without ever being co-dependent.
In a sea of cinematic characters who treat their entitlement to happiness as a divine right, which should come at anyone's expense, Hazal and Ali, do not. Their humility is hypnotic.
Rarely, do you ever see characters wonder, if they deserve happiness. Or if they truly deserve their loved one's affection. That is a theme that runs to the very core of “Sadece Sen.” Adding strength to the narrative is that these doubts are shared by both of its protagonists. Another rare and refreshing bit of storytelling.
Equally as refreshing is the love story’s lack of inevitability. As much as you want Ali and Hazal to be together, it feels tragically unattainable, and tension builds as those feelings are put to the test. The good news is that during the wait for the ending, everything you want to have happen in “Sadece Sen,” does. There is nothing left off the checklist.
Is the romantic tension, brought to a full boil, without running over? Yes. Is the love story built on friendship? Yes.
Do both leads, respect, admire, and equally yearn for the other? Yes. Are they indefatigably loyal to one another? Yes.
Is there an adorable puppy? Yes. How about a grand romantic gesture? Yes, yes, and yes.
Hakan Yonat's direction is swift, yet gives you a sense that a considerable amount of time has passed. A reasonable enough time for everything that happens to unfold. “Sadece Sen” is riveting to watch, and powerful. Opening on an ominous note, you spend the film hoping against all odds that it will not come to fruition.
Unlike most films, that doubt is tangible, as there are no guarantees. You will not find more palatable suspense in any other modern-set romance. The "will they/won't they" is consistently present.
To say more about the plot would give it away, a rare thing to say about a romantic drama, but “Sadece Sen” has as many twists, and turns as an elaborate thriller. It is a component that only adds to its compelling visage.
The performances are another key ingredient to what sets “Sadece Sen,” above and beyond its peers. The chemistry between Ibrahim Celikkol and Belcim Bilgin is compelling, organic, tender, and passionate. Whether sharing the screen separately or together, that connection never wavers.
On-screen connections are a team effort, and a rarely achieved accomplishment in movies, or television, for that matter. Without believable chemistry, a screen romance is doomed, and “Sadece Sen” truly captures lightning in a bottle between Celikkol and Bilgin. “Sadece Sen” thrives on their performances, and thanks to them, it positively flourishes.
Celikkol gives a tour de force performance that crucially empowers the film's unpredictability. A turn that is as vulnerable and noble, as it is brooding, and tenderly stern. While Bilgin is spellbinding as the wholesome Hazal, a role she builds with tremendous depth, and a pureness of heart that effervescently lights the film.
Thankfully, Hazal’s blindness is not used as a plot device rather a conduit. Without her sight, Hazal is able to solely focus on Ali's soul, which causes him to look within himself, as well. While she can't see his longing looks or haunted expressions, she trusts what she cannot see, and senses.
"Sadece Sen" is a remarkably flawless and beautiful film, a testament to the quality of each, and every scene. There are two moments in “Sadece Sen” that are sincerely breathtaking, which is a rarely visceral reaction to personally experience.
Both times it was born out of pure shock, and films are seldom, if ever, able to deal such a blow. Let alone twice, and that is one of the many reasons “Sadece Sen” is a must-see movie.
"Sadece Sen" is currently streaming on Netflix
[Featured Image by Boyut Film]
(c) Britt Lawrence, Eclectic Pop
If you enjoyed reading this insightful article, be sure to check out the author's Blog for more here. Eclectic Pop was founded in 2013 by freelance writer Britt Lawrence. Eclectic Pop was created in the interest of shining a positive light on the movies, music, and television that are rarely given the attention they deserve. Through the years, Eclectic Pop has exhaustively covered A+E’s underrated series “Bates Motel” and The CW’s “Reign,” among other TV gems.