Clash of cultures is one thing, but when worldly and unworldly grind, as featured in Reha Erdem’s atmospheric picture, trust and acceptance wears thin fast. Stumbling into existence from icy nothingness, Kosmos (Yesil) saves the life of a child and finds automatic admission into the life of a barren, tundra-swept town in Northern Turkey. Part childlike, Part supernatural, the wiry outsider at first stuns the stubbly crowds with his riddled, theistic poetry; yet quickly his aberration of work places him at odds with a village of the “good … and the strong”. Feelings are only exacerbated when Kosmos begins, what can only be described as a feral relationship with a kindred spirit, Neptun (Turan), the daughter of a townsman.
The plot may be summed up in a few lines, but books could be filled describing the gaunt and oppressive atmosphere of the film. The piercing cold, the thick coats, the desolate stone-houses, and the huddled and shivering peaked-caps in dingy café’s infuse a stifling despair and hopelessness – clinging to every shape in every shot. Lost in the driving sleet and concrete, Erdem’s sixth feature redefines bleak. Constant shells and gunshots hail your ears, until they become unnoticed, so normal are they; it does not take long for the uniform grimaces of the town folk to seep into you own soul. Yet on this platform the Turkish director builds moments of pure breathless imagination that seem to burn through even more magically amidst the tundra of joylessness.
KOSMOS is currently showing at picturehouses around the UK.
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