How would we look upon our lives in an ideal world? Would we still revel in nostalgia and pine for childhood experiences, or would we move forward and blossom? These are the questions provoked in the reflective odyssey Home written and directed by former Nuri Bilge Ceylan actor Muzaffer Özdemir.
Home sees middle-aged protagonist Doğan (Kanbolat Gorkem Arslan) travelling through the mountainous countryside of Turkey, trying to find a remedy for his depressed state of mind. The explicit cause of his neurosis is undisclosed, but he is a man ill at ease with life. Doğan decides that seeing his birthplace might sooth his troubles, but as he journeys through the countryside he becomes increasingly disillusioned. The corporate takeover of the landscape, the disappearing of sincere religious figures and the decline of his culture fill him with concern.
However, Doğan finds some solace in documenting preserved locations of natural beauty with his camera. He snaps places remembered from his childhood, which may soon be removed forever. The process of documenting and creating appeases his cynicism momentarily, yet as soon as her remembers his childhood he becomes withdrawn and foetus like.
Though certainly introspective, Home eschews the intensity of a Ceylan film (such as Once Upon A Time In Anatolia.) At 75 minutes it makes for comparatively light viewing, yet it is not light on its thematic considerations. Doğan’s fixations feel as though they come directly from the mind of Özdemir himself. Much like his protagonist, this is a director troubled by the changing and decaying world. It feels as though Özdemir has distilled the changes he has witnessed over almost seven decades to make this debut feature.
In formal terms Home is a tentative work. The camera is framed unobtrusively and natural light illuminates each scene. Özdemir captures nature from the wind in the trees to animals roaming in the wild, yet there are no moments of Tarkovsky-esque awe. However Özdemir returns recurrently to the subtle motif of bells (including cowbells) and cowslip flowers, which serve as a staple icon of natural beauty.
Finally the film determines that man’s attempt to follow God’s creation (ambitiously constructing industry and infrastructure) leads to meddling with nature itself. It is an appropriate assessment for a film such a modestly constructed film and yet there is a sense that Özdemir has the potential to show us more. Perhaps for his next feature he will blossom, like Doğan’s beloved cowslips.