The Confession, 2001

One of the highlights from the Zeki Demirkubuz retrospective for me was the discovery of The Confession, the second installment of his Tales of Darkness trilogy, a taut, minimalist, and deeply moving portrait of the dissolution of a marriage. A pair of mundane, quick greeting calls to the office for public works engineer, Harun (Taner Birsel) made by his wife, Nilgün (Basak Köklükaya) incisively frames the state of their disintegrating marriage, as the empty conversations and extended silences (and implicit reassurances) give way to a sense of anxiety that becomes even more profound when Harun, once again, goes away on business. Returning earlier than planned, Harun’s suspicions grow deeper when he overhears his wife place a call to confirm her safe arrival home after apparently having spent the evening away from home. Increasingly convinced of his wife’s infidelity, Harun goads her into meeting for a seemingly casual dinner out (and perhaps signaling an implicit pretext of agreeing to her past entreaties for a trial separation) and confronts her with his nagging suspicions, offering to consent to the separation on that condition that she confess her infidelity and confirm her culpability – an attempt to deflect his own sense of displaced guilt that had been sown years earlier following the suicide of his best friend (a death that may have been precipitated by their rivalry over Nilgün’s affections). However, as Nilgün steadfastly continues to refuse to acknowledge her guilt and enable her husband’s own consuming fears even in the face of escalating physical violence, the possibility for closure over Harun’s own harbored wounds and implacable conscience soon proves even more elusive. Demirkubuz’s elegant primary compositions of medium shots from a stationary camera, confining interior spaces, and near real-time progression provide an incisive backdrop that mirrors the raw and unflinching intimacy of the film’s psychologically dark emotional terrain, creating a haunting metaphor for humanity’s Nietszchian eternal struggle between (Apollinian) logic and (Dionysian) passion.

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