Saturday, April 17, 2021

When I'm Done Dying - SIFF 2021 Movie Review

The Movie: When I'm Done Dying

The Director: Nisan Dağ

The Cast: Oktay Çubuk, Hayal Köseoglu, Ushan Çakir

The Story: An aspiring young rapper living in the Istanbul slum of Karacinar is addicted to a cheap drug, bonzai, which threatens his career ambitions and his relationship with an upper class DJ.

The Review:
Nisan Dağ's latest directorial effort is a deep exploration of drugs and hip hop culture within the confines of an Istanbul slum town. While there are obvious cultural differences between this story and how it might play out in the states, the two topics keep the proceedings unavoidably familiar and of course in the most tragic of ways. The protagonist of the movie is a young man named Fehmi who has dreams of being a rap star partly for his own glory and partly to help contribute to his family. The role is played by Oktay Çubuk who brings a youthful energy to the performance that is both endearing and saddening when you see the dark places he takes the character to.

Hayal Köseoglu plays Devin, an EDM DJ who comes from a more upper class area of the city, as much more than just a love interest for Fehmi. She really brings a lot to the performance and creates a character that for me ended up being central to the story as it plays out. One of the things you will notice about this movie is how the director is not afraid to tackle some tough topics, especially in how they relate to culture and society in Istanbul. The idea of homosexuality for example is something that is still villainized and looked at as something that is wrong with people and Dağ isn't afraid to have one of her characters in the movie dealing with those struggles.

The music for the movie was provided by Da Poet which really adds to the authenticity of the movie and there are also some very surreal animated sequences that punctuate the more drug induced moments of the movie. Overall, this is an enjoyable movie and a strong effort that tackles some serious subject matter. For writer and director Nisan Dağ, this is a strong second feature and I look forward to seeing what she decides to take on next.

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