'Dream': Review

By Fainaru, Dan | Screen International, November 9, 2016 | Go to article overview

'Dream': Review


Fainaru, Dan, Screen International


Dir/scr. Dervis Zaim. Turkey, 2016. 106 min.

Dervis Zaim's multi-layered portrait of today's Turkey may rub a lot of people up the wrong way, and not always for the same reasons. Tackling various themes including real estate scandals and personal liability, courtroom corruption, religious traditions versus modernity and reality versus dreams, it already seems to have aggravated many local critics as well as some international festival programmers.

Yet even though Dream is perhaps too much of an intellectual exercise and not sufficiently affecting on an emotional level, it would make a strong addition to any ambitious film event which does not expect every Turkish entry to be a slow, contemplative, minimalistic elegy.

Faithful to his approach in recent years (The Dot, Shadows and Faces, Cycle), Zaim once again uses an old myth as his starting point. This time he goes all the way back to the third century for the story of seven young men persecuted because of their faith who escape to a cave and go to sleep with a mighty dog keeping guard. When they wake up, hundreds of years later, the world of course has completely changed.

In Zaim's film, the seven sleepers come to life in a modern mosque, a splendid structure perfectly integrated into the surrounding landscape (the Sancaklar mosque shown in the film was built in 2012 by Emre Arolat) but vastly different from anything the old traditions have dictated. Each of the seven is given a small sum of money and sent into the world, but whether they find anything that comes close to their utopian dreams is never specified.

The legend is brought into the film through the imagination of an ambitious young architect, Sine, who despairs of ever breaking new ground in her profession as she is constantly thwarted by the commercial demands of her uncle's architectural studio. Treated in a sleeping disorder clinic for acute insomnia, she deems herself - as she dreams - to be the person who will finally open the eyes of the seven sleepers. …

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