Glasgow Film Festival Review: ‘More’

Based on the Hakan Günday‘s award-winning novel, Onur Saylak directs his first feature in ‘More‘ or ‘Daha’ to give the original Turkish name. The narrative centres around 14 year old Gaza (Hayat Van Eck). He is implicated in his fathers illegal and brutal human trafficking business and starts to think about the possibilities of life elsewhere.

The acting is of a high quality. Van Eck, for whom this is his first feature, gives a convincing performance in the lead role. His confusion and frustration turn bitterly into anger and rage. As the film progresses to the most violent and heated scenes, we can see his emotions from the look in his eyes and the way his body speaks as he repeats the same maddened dialogue whilst pacing around the domestic space of the house.

Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan is equally as skillful as, his father, Ahad. It is very quickly apparent that Ahad is a bully and a danger to everyone he comes into contact with. His stubbornness is evident in his delivery of dialogue. The script is well written, almost all of Ahad’s dialogue being commands. He is reluctant to actually communicate with the refugees, who arrive in their van-loads and are locked in the basement of his house like “stock”.

Gaza is often, therefore, the mouthpiece through which Ahad speaks. The whole film represents the learning of his father’s cruel demeanour. It is not just domestic environments where Gaza picks up the attitudes of toxic masculinity though. He mirrors this from the older youths on the beachside. They are involved in egocentric performances of freestyle rap. Gaza takes this on and makes it his own throughout the narrative.

Personally, I would’ve liked to have seen more examples of where our lead is a little more introspective and attempts to avoid the power-seeking male dominance that surrounds him. Gaza does portray some signs of this, but it could’ve been more of a focus. The camera does well to place Gaza and Ahad in their own separate frames, even when they are physically close to each other. There are several scenes where Gaza is alone and looking out toward the sunset in the setting of rural Turkey, as well as a further scene where he swims alone in the ocean. These moments do highlight his alienation from the rest of the world of the film.

As we have seen in many films of recent months (in the Ai Weiwei documentary ‘Human Flow‘ 2017, and the feature film ‘Jupiter’s Moon‘ 2017 to name two) mass migration and asylum are increasingly tense societal issues. Here, in the character of Gaza, we see a desire to be human toward refugees yet, at the same time, a complicit involvement in their exploitation. All of this is shown through the rough handheld camera at times and in the almost transactional close-ups of food and water.

More‘ is a film which is unforgiving and uneasy to watch. It handles patriarchal dominance with care, but never fully breaks it down. Nevertheless, a promising debut feature from Onur Saylak.

Zach Roddis | [rating=4]

Crime, Drama | Turkey, 2017 | 15 | 24-25th February 2018 | Glasgow Film Festival |Dir.Onur Saylak |Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan, Hayat Van Eck, Turgut Tuncalp | Buy Tickets