Men on the Bridge


Men on the Bridge
Directed by Asli Özge
Endorphine Production
Opens June 20, MOMA, Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters

Raw yet respectful and tenderly observed, this feature-film/documentary hybrid from writer-director Asli Özge plops a trio of real-life Istanbulites into a fictionalized account of their lives to engage the maddening flux of present-day Turkey and, by extension, modernity itself. All three protagonists—impoverished street peddler Fikret, unhappily married taxi driver Umut, and Murat, a lonely, low-level traffic cop—work near the Bosphorus Bridge, a looming and perpetually snarled symbol of the abundance promised but rarely delivered by the upward mobility each compulsively pursues. That makes Men on the Bridge sound stuffier than it is: For all of its big ideas, which Özge deploys with remarkable grace, it's the film's small moments that linger, including a pair of excruciating first dates for Murat (subbing for his real-life cop brother, who was unable to appear due to Turkish law) and a heartbreakingly near-comic attempt by Fikret to hold down a busboy job. The running argument between Umut and his grasping wife, Cemile, is downright troubling, genuine or not (the nonprofessional leads are so adept, it's hard to tell) and suggests a tragedy unspecific to any single culture. Like cities and bridges, people who graze but never grasp their private dreams abound; capturing their lives with vision and compassion is a feat.


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