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directed by Hakan Ünal

The short’s acute commencement, the barely perceptible, yet high-pitched shriek, makes way for an elegant, soothing blues piece. The paradoxical juxtaposition that marks the beginning of ORANGE anticipates the emotional turmoil and conflict that follow presently. The Turkish short film from director Hakan Ünal scrutinizes the traditional married couple and takes things to an extreme.

Family drama and conflict are at the center of Turkish short ORANGE. Gizem, a woman in around her 30s, is married to an alcoholic gambling addict that is unsatisfied with her not being able to conceive. Her taking her friend’s place in the blues bar she was performing leads up to dramatic events that the couple won’t seem able to overcome. The highs and lows of the story unfold rhythmically and gradually reveal pieces of family drama that affect this couple. Sexual abuse, lies and emotional turmoil lie beneath the appearance of a possibly happily married couple.

The troubling nature of the events that make up the storyline are rendered even more distressing by the cinematography. The black and white image, deprived of almost all contrast or tones, promotes a disturbing neutrality. However, the choice of angles and perspective (blurry pictures, the recurrent focus on shadows, high-angle shots), though less neutral, contribute to an ascending troubling atmosphere.

As successful as it is in promoting an undoubtedly distressing tone, ORANGE would have benefited from improvements in certain areas. Though the plot unfolds quite smoothly, the succession of events can seem hectic and rushed at times. Another weakness could be the insufficient focus on character development. Together with the average acting, this makes for a lack of character credibility.

Despite all this, the director succeeded in creating a short that’s both distressing and reliable. Although some situations may have been taken to an extreme, the director’s choice is coherent with what - little - we know about the characters. In the end, if the actions is what defines the partners, then their moral and psychological portrait seem to be that of distressed individuals in disagreement with themselves.

ORANGE’s main asset is, despite all weaknesses, the director’s success in recreating a family portrait that is both reliable and frightening. Hakan Ünal’s courage to tackle psychological conflicts and to scratch below the surface encourage us to look forward to his next works.

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