Social commentary in recent Turkish films is a rare feat. Smooth and incisive social commentary is even rarer. Bornova Bornova has it in its core. While with its plot it is reminscent of Demirkubuz and Ceylan – his recent ones -, what interests Inan Temelkuran is rather different. Both Ceylan and Demirkubuz often focus in the essence of human condition and the characters they create seem more universal. In contrast, characters in Bornova Bornova look like the species of a certain environment. For each, the way they are, have its ties to where and when they exist and perhaps deliberately Temelkuran sheds the light on these ties. In Bornova Bornova he opens us a window into the lives of Hakan, Salih and others alike.
Hakan is an unemployed youngman with an aging mother to take care of. He once had been a promising player in a professional soccer club. He is now left without many options after a broken leg forced him to quit his profession for good. Finally he may be getting a job as a cab driver. He has no big dreams anymore. His world is the neighborhood. If anyone else we could have thought he was content. But in case of Hakan, we know its his lack of vision and confidence. Moreover Hakan is slow. He trusts and respects the wrong guys. Foremost of them is Salih.
Salih is the hoodlum everyone stays away. We find him in a scene feeding the street kids, making each one of them kiss his hand as he delivers a pack of snacks. Make no mistake, it is no charity. He says he wants respect and this is how he stages a respect giving ceremony to himself. Perhaps that’s also why he keeps Hakan, his sole admirer, close to himself. Even the (street) kids seem to be aware Salih is not a guy to trust. Hakan can not tell and when he finally realizes, his world goes upside down. Darkly humorous moment when he utters “We are as how we seem, but not everyone is” sums a lot of it up. What you expect to happen next happens, yet the ending certainly has more than you expect, most memorably in its revelations about the characters.
Temelkuran does more than making a genre film. He gives a slice of modern Turkey in Bornova Bornova. Golden Orange co-winner of 2009 stands out as one of the freshest films to come out of the country in recent years. Clearly, Inan Temelkuran is a director to watch.