Araf: Somewhere in Between
PROD/SCR Yeşim Ustaoğlu
CAM Michael Hammon
EDS Mathilde Muyard, Naim Kanat, Svetolik Mica Zajc
PROD DES Osman Özcan
PROD CO Ustaoğlu Film / CDP / The Match Factory
Araf means purgatory, and that’s where the longings of the spirit and body will take young Zehra (Neslihan Atagül). She’s young, poor and living a life of quiet desperation in rural Turkey. Her desires are as simple as they are strong: to find love and to leave her hometown behind. She works at a roadside cafeteria with Olgun (Baris Hacichan); he’s a wayward guy her age, and she thinks she can do better. When handsome, taciturn long-haul truck driver Mahur (Özcan Deniz) starts passing through regularly, she sees a chance for love and escape, and she takes it.
This is a film that builds outward, from basic physicality to morality and meaning. The director conveys an imposing environment: dirty snow, cutting winds and expanses of empty space. In contrast to this is a human sensuality so strong it almost burns off the screen. Desire grows stronger for being so frustrated: in the loves scenes it’s hard to tell true intimacy from simple desperation. Atagül is simply superb, and the other leads work wonderfully with her. With stunningly directed scenes using seductive music and striking winter vistas, Yeşim Ustaoğlu’s potently soulful drama "creates resonant images that blend countryside, village and landscape into rich visual emotions…"—Hollywood Reporter