After watching Last Call for Istanbul, I found myself at a loss for words. Despite spending an hour trying to process the film, I came up empty-handed. Truth be told, it didn't seem worth the effort, especially since I had a deadline to meet. The movie left me confused and bewildered as if it had no clear sense of direction or purpose. Written by Nuran Evren Sit and directed by Gonenc Uyanik, the film gave me the impression that its creators were equally perplexed about what they were trying to achieve. Watching Last Call for Istanbul was like listening to a drunken story that made little sense. The kind of tale that might seem impressive to those under the influence but in the morning would be revealed for what it truly is - a nonsensical rambling.
Nuran and Gonenc seem to be convinced that this story is worth bringing to the screen. Gonenc is so entranced by the writing that he doesn't focus much on the visual storytelling. Before I explain why I think Nuran wrote and Gonenc directed this movie, let me give you a quick rundown of what happens in the story. Mehmet (played by Kivanç Tatlitug) bumps into Serin (played by Beren Saat) at the airport in New York, and they're instantly drawn to each other. It's as if they're experiencing love at first sight. When Serin's bag gets picked up by someone else, Mehmet jumps in to assist her in retrieving it. It's apparent that he's just trying to find an excuse to spend more time with her, and she doesn't seem to mind. However, things take a slightly interesting turn when we learn that both characters are married. Although Mehmet claims he won't cheat on his wife, his feelings for Serin are evident to the audience. It's easy to predict where this story is going.
Last Call for Istanbul ends on a predictable note. It's not so surprising. The surprise - if you can call it that - comes in the middle. After unfolding like a breezy romantic film, the movie suddenly becomes jarring when a man starts threatening Serin with a knife. How do we reach this point? Serin gets off the bus while Mehmet pays a boy for a sketch. Why couldn't that artist ask for money earlier? Because then, these characters wouldn't have gotten (temporarily) separated from each other. So Serin is harassed with a knife while Mehmet has to come to her running. What's the point of this scene? Is this the movie's way of removing romance from New York City, given Serin and Mehmet were discussing how lovely the city is? If that's the case, why return to being cheerful and carefree after such an uncomfortable scene? It only makes the movie more jerky.
Then there is that orgasm competition where Serin moans in front of the audience while Mehmet observes her with...desire? Discomfort? Jealousy? It's hard to tell, at least at this point. And then, after the characters go to bed together, the movie reveals its secrets to us. This "secret," this "shocking twist," is the main reason behind the making of this film. Some things that seemed vague or confusing become a bit comprehensible. However, Last Call for Istanbul feels more ridiculous after the twist. Its premise becomes absurd. The situation appears thoroughly unconvincing. This is what happens when you pick up the camera for one purpose only: To pull the rug from beneath the audience's feet. Initially, you feel as if Serin has a sinister goal in her mind, and later, you think you will get something along the lines of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Both these possibilities seem more enticing than what actually occurs in the film.
It's impossible to ignore THE development, but even if you do, the message conveyed to the audience is unacceptable. I cannot discuss the details without spoilers, but let's just say that it promotes the idea of prioritizing your partner over your career, even if you know you will always argue with each other. The movie claims that every relationship has ups and downs, and divorce should not be the answer. However, this thought would have been more convincing if the onscreen couple had a stronger connection. Looking at them, it becomes evident they have no future together, and happiness seems out of reach (it's artificially manufactured for the ending). Last Call for Istanbul has a bitter aftertaste that informs us we have just watched one of the year's worst, if not the worst, movies.
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