Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

"Riza is hypnotic, but not in a good way."

Patience is a virtue. Slowness in film can sustain, even create, mood; there are static cameras, steady paces, measured silences. Length, no matter what some might say, isn't everything, but too much can be more damaging than not enough.

Riza is a film about despair, the depths reached in an unchanging hell. The action, such as it is, follows the titular Riza as he struggles to accumulate the money to repair his truck. Until he has 10,000 Lira, he is trapped in a hostel in Istanbul. His prison is seemingly endless, with some shots repeated almost exactly after each step of Riza's descent.

Copy picture

Riza is hypnotic, but not in a good way. While well observed, it is so slow that it becomes a lullaby. It is a quiet film, with a powerful idea, but its focus is such that it becomes boring, leaving audiences not so much stunned as drowsy.

The act of observing makes for powerful films. Riza shares with La Soledad an almost pathological focus on the ordinary, the more to highlight the extraordinary. The work of Michael Hanneke has at times a stillness that serves as stark contrast to what does happen, to what is different. Apocalypse Now Redux adds more layers to the hell of war, makes the experience more baffling, less comprehensible, and in so doing strengthens its case. Where other films take their time to say something about observation and daily life, about voyeurism, about the act of watching and understanding, Riza is just slow.

It's built well, with some nice moments of characterisation, but its 109 minutes feel longer, much longer. Its slowness aims for a sense of the enduring, but it achieves only ennui.

Written, directed, and produced by Tayfun Pirselimoglu, it could perhaps have done with strong input from someone else. What there is of Riza is stretched too thin to cope, what power it has is lost - it is not unrelenting, but endless, and therefore a waste.

Reviewed on: 24 Aug 2007
Share this with others on...
Riza packshot
A selfish man undertakes a complicated journey which might teach him the value of doing the right thing.

Read more Riza reviews:

Chris **

Director: Tayfun Pirselimoglu

Writer: Tayfun Pirselimoglu

Starring: Melissa Ahmedi, Riza Akin, Emin Bas, Muhammed Cangören, Gürbüz Demir, Melih Duzenli, Nurcan Eren, Hayati Pirselimoglu, Fatih Sevildi, Turgay Tan

Year: 2007

Runtime: 109 minutes

Country: Turkey


EIFF 2007

Search database:

If you like this, try:

The Piano Teacher
Solitary Fragments