Review: Times and Winds

Reha Erdem’s poetry at times underlines its own effects when it should let its epiphanies flow like a breeze.

Times and Winds
Photo: Kino International

The five daily utterances of traditional Islamic prayer provide the structure of Times and Winds, Reha Erdem’s slight but striking mood piece set in a small village overlooking the Turkish seaside. The fact that these stages are chronologically reversed, beginning at night and ending at dawn, is essential to the picture’s portrait of youth on the cusp of awareness; think of the concluding morning as the necessary light illuminating the responsibilities awaiting the three teenage characters. Omer (Ozkan Ozen) is the son of a local imam whose often harsh temper has the boy praying for (and secretly planning) the man’s death; his best friend, Yakup (Ali Bey Kayali), is smitten by their pretty teacher and defends his father against his grandfather’s browbeating until he one day finds his father peeping through the woman’s window; Yildiz (Elit Iscan), meanwhile, deals with the obligations of a young woman in a conservative rural setting, stacked with chores (including caring for the younger sibling her mother favors) and simultaneously intrigued and frightened by the aspect of sex. Not much happens in the film, with Erdem purposely stretching the milieu’s bucolic rhythms so that a solar eclipse or the sight of farm animals humping becomes an event, and the fall of an infant a catastrophe. Rather, meaning in Times and Winds is embedded in painterly compositions and rhyming camera movements which, repeated as visual motifs and scored to Arvo Pärt’s insistent chorales, frequently push the narrative out of ethnographic naturalism and toward a subtly operatic pantheism. Lacking the anger of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s Padre Padrone, Erdem’s poetry at times underlines its own effects when it should let its epiphanies flow like a breeze, yet its recurring shot remains affecting: Sleeping children cocooned by verdant nature, on their way to the severe awakening of adulthood.

 Cast: Ozkan Ozen, Ali Bey Kayali, Elit Iscan, Taner Birsel, Nihan Asli Elmas, Köksal Engür, Sevinç Erbulak, Selma Ergeç, Yigit Özsener, Tilbe Saran, Tarik Sönmez, Cüneyt Türel  Director: Reha Erdem  Screenwriter: Reha Erdem  Distributor: Kino International  Running Time: 111 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2006  Buy: Video

Fernando F. Croce

Fernando F. Croce is a San Francisco-based film writer whose work has been published in Film Comment, Reverse Shot, MUBI, and Fandor. He runs the website CinePassion.

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