So I actually thought Rezzan Tanyeli’s debut feature “I Don’t Like Sundays” (Pazarları Hiç Sevmem) would be some absurd ironic black comedy that would make Sundays worth it. I’m sad to say it is not; despite its very good intentions and attempts at showing us how life is weirdly sad and miraculous at the same time, it made me so depressed because of it’s unremarkable and uninspiring lead character that I actually ended up feeling like it was Monday even though I saw the film on a chirpy Friday.
Besides it’s unconvincing lead, I really can’t figure out how this film went wrong because on paper it really looks good and polished: There’s Reha Erdem’s brilliant cinematographer Florent Henry on board, there’s actress Melisa Sözen doing her best to be a confused but intelligent young woman, there’s Tanyeli’s own script, which has a lot of potential and some very funny sweet moments that put a smile on your face, and last but not least there’s a retro car driving itself through a forest and a mountain road that reminded me of fond memories of dear old “Herbie.” So why could I not attach myself to this film, which, in a very unpretentious and benevolent way might I add, tries to create feelings of attachment to life in all us frustrated souls who are fed up with heartbreak and failure? I think it’s because this film has forgotten to sprinkle a touch of evil here and there and admit that sometimes you need a devil’s advocate and wryness to fully enjoy all that’s out there. It’s a matter of balance, possibly ying and yang.
Our anti-hero is Oğuz (Edhem Dirvana), a young man in his 30s who is not going through the best time of his life. His ex-girlfriend Ayşe (Ezgi Mola), whom he’s still in love with, is about to marry another man, and his father is on his death bed at the hospital. Oğuz’s father’s last wish is to see his beautiful 1960s model car before he leaves this earth, but Oğuz can’t make it in time to the hospital to show the old man his beloved car because the young man has lent the car to his ex-girlfriend on her wedding night.
Oğuz’s family has decided to bury the old man in their home village on the outskirts of İstanbul. As the funeral party is driving through the beautiful scenery, we realize that Oğuz and his younger brother are actually carrying their dead father in the back seat of his retro car. Such madness! For some odd reason, no one in the convoy realizes that the man is in the car, and meanwhile Oğuz and younger brother are having profound conversations about the loss of their father and their past. Also in the picture is the young unemployed Deniz (Melisa Sözen) who has had a crush on Oğuz for the longest time ever, even though he is fully unaware that they have met before. She suddenly joins the family and shares their mourning, and the two youngsters grow closer…
The film doesn’t really go anywhere; it’s not really supposed to since its main concern is to philosophize on such weighty subjects as death, loss, the past and the possibility of a better tomorrow all through the channel of lead Edhem Dirvana’s Oğuz. While the character Oğuz has been written with finesse and thought, Dirvana’s screen charisma and acting is not poised enough to make us care about this character, which could have been the perfect I-look-like-I-don’t-give-a-damn-but-I’m-a-very-emotional man. The ensemble cast is quite successful with the help of veteran Ayşen Gruda, Ezgi Mola and Hasibe Eren, but Dirvana’s presence cannot lift this film up to where it was intended to be spiritually even though it is a visual stunner. Some lovely moments of family dynamics are also a strong point of the film, but they don’t amount to much in the wider picture.
I really wanted to like “I Don’t Like Sundays,” but I just couldn’t. I am all for its humanistic and warm ideas of holding on to life; it’s just that I wish it could have delivered this idea with so much more conviction and passion.
‘Pazarları Hiç Sevmem’
(I Don’t Like Sundays)
Directed by: Rezzan Tanyeli
Cast: Melisa Sözen, Ayşen Gruda, Hasibe Eren, Ezgi Mola, Umut Kurt