Turkish writer-director Onur Ünlü’s mysterious, fantastical-scatological fable follows a barber who survives a suicide attempt and finds himself falling in love, succumbing to murderous jealousy, and trying to make sense of life in a village where his neighbours are invisible, immortal or possess the ability to stop time.
Thou Gild'st the Even
"Man is created from anxiety." Turkish writer-director/cinema wizard Onur Ünlü quotes from Euripides for the epigram to the many dramas, both bizarre and all too familiar, that unfold in Thou Gild'st the Even, his latest tale of mystery and imagination. Indeed, anxieties sprout like cancer in the Anatolian village where beady-eyed, twenty seven- year-old barber Cemal (Ali Atay) lives and, at the film's outset, tries to die. In this village, the fantastic is never far from the quotidian. Among Cemal's neighbours are a giant, an immortal, an invisible woman, and a bookseller who can stop time by clapping her hands. Everyone has their thing.
Cemal takes an interest in the gloomily pretty farm girl Yasemin (Demet Evgar). He spies on her while she wipes her ailing uncle's behind, then promptly asks her to lunch, where the two of them indiscriminately gobble up Cemal's meds; suddenly, they're flying high over the local landscape — before falling back to Earth and vomiting. It's during their vomit session that Cemal asks Yasemin to marry him. She accepts. But soon after the wedding Cemal becomes paranoid and fiendishly jealous, a soft-spoken Woyzeck who beats his woman one minute and reads her poetry the next. (The film's title comes from Shakespeare's twenty-eighth sonnet.)
Photographed in gorgeous black and
white, employing endearingly simple
visual effects, and featuring perfectly
pitched deadpan performances, Thou
Gild'st the Even enters the canon of magic
realism without getting too cute about it. A
streak of black humour infuses every scene,
but Ünlü still manages to show compassion
for each of his characters, even when, after
turning to mutilation, they possibly wind
up causing the end of the world.