Monday, 8 February 2016

Nihan: The Last Page

Director: Tofiq Rzayev
Writers: Tofiq Rzayev, Mustafa Erdogan Ulgur
Producer: Tofiq Rzayev
Cast: Erhan Sancar, Alsen Buse Aydin, Sevgi Uchgayabashi
Year of release: 2016
Country: Turkey
Reviewed from: online screener

I’m a very busy man right now. Very busy. Too busy to write new reviews for this site at the moment. But… when a 14-minute Turkish short turns up unannounced in my inbox, what am I going to do?

Nihan: Son Sayfa is one of those short films where not much happens, making it almost impossible to review in any detail without giving away the entire plot. Except I’m not entirely sure what does happen.

This is the latest film from Tofiq Rzayev, whose previous work here was The Girl in the Woods. That was listed on the IMDB as an Azerbaijani film whereas Nihan: The Last Page is apparently Turkish. That was what confused me and is why I didn’t recognise Rzayev’s name at first.

So what is the film about? It’s mostly a discussion between a man and a woman about the man’s dead girlfriend, Nihan, and about the house they’re standing in. The man has nearly finished a book. I may be barking up completely the wrong tree but I think this is a ghost story of some sort. Although, truth be told, that’s basically a combination of ‘it’s about someone who has died’ and ‘I didn’t really understand that’. If it is a ghost story, then I iked it. If it's not a ghost story, then it's too obtuse for me and I don't know what's going on.

Apparently the film is influenced by the work of Tarkovsky and that’s certainly very visible. The first two minutes – out of only 14, remember – are just the man walking to his front door, turning and walking back again. The film has the languid pace and reflexive inaction of a Tarkovsky film, that’s for sure. This ain’t no Michael Bay picture.

It’s beautifully shot by Rzayev, who also edited, and the three actors (including Uchgayabashi, who is credited with the original story idea) are all very good. The subtitles are well done, which matters.

At just under a quarter of an hour, Nihan: The Last Page doesn’t outstay its welcome. It is thought-provoking and enigmatic in its paucity of narrative and I quite liked that.

MJS rating: B+

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