Sunday, June 23, 2024

About Dry Grasses movie review (2024)

Yes, Samet lies plenty, but doing the opposite, being brutal honesty, is just as hurtful. 

Enraged about Sevim’s backstabbing, he tells the rowdy class that none of them will amount to much other than growing crops for the wealthy to consume. Statistically that’s likely a harsh reality, but part of his duty as a teacher is to lie and instill the belief that they can surmount those circumstances in hopes that a handful of them are inspired enough to defy the odds. Instead, he sounds like a dictator trying to silence the opposition, speaking of his enemies, in this case elementary school girls, as people deserving of collective scorn. 

Ceylan transforms quotidian encounters into conversational battlefields that unfurl the characters’ most ingrained apprehensions or unflattering instincts. This is distinctly true in scenes with Semat and Kenan’s new left-wing friend Nuray (Merve Dizdar), a former military woman turned teacher who lost her right leg in an explosion. The steadily paced, richly intellectual, and absorbingly acted scenes make the expansive running time irrelevant. 

When Nuray shares that she’s purchased a car, Kenan reacts with genuine excitement. We hear him rejoice, and cut to her reacting in delight. The next shot shows Samet looking at Kenan with disgust over his earnestness, a wordless moment of villainy. When he finally speaks, his companions don’t respond, they are staring intently at each other. Samet recognizes a connection is brewing. He is jealous, not because of any interest in dating her, but of the notion that others can experience such joy. Samet also reviles knowing that Nuray finds Kenan, raised in this land and who he judges as uncultured, more interesting than him. 

Over dinner on a different night, the most riveting ideological duel in the film takes place — Ceylan’s quietly explosive dialogue rouses the mind. Nuray sees through Samet’s poisonous politeness, used to disguise his staunch selfishness. The extraordinarily restrained Dizdar, who won the Best Actress award at Cannes for this turn, gives voice to her galvanizing lines advocating for community, while he defends his inaction as the sensible choice. “Shall I tell the truth or try to make you happy?,” Samet responds to her inquiries about the type of person he thinks he is. But though motives differ, Nuray sins of concealment too when she asks him to not speak of their one-on-one evening as not to hurt Kenan.  

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