The Pillar Of Salt

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Reviewed by: Rory Ford

The Pillar Of Salt
"All art is, by it's very nature, indulgent but this 70-minute suffocatingly dull tone poem is SO indulgent it's akin to masturbating furiously in public." | Photo: Courtesy of Berlin Film Festival

There's a couple of cardinal rules that you should always try to follow in film - and, indeed, any sort of reviewing. Firstly, avoid the use of the word "I"; all reviews, while they should try to be subjective, they are necessarily objective - that's why there's a byline at the beginning or the end of the piece. Reviewers who continually write stuff like: "I laughed so hard I broke all my furniture," are, by and large, just attention-seeking jerks. Secondly, try to engage with the piece. No-one sets out to make a bad film; the intentions of the writer or director are there to be unearthed even if the work seems difficult, dysfunctional or downright dreary.

Well, I'm just going to throw these two rules right out the window now because Burak Cevik's impenetrable The Pillar Of Salt utterly defeated me.

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All art is, by it's very nature, indulgent but this 70-minute suffocatingly dull tone poem is SO indulgent it's akin to masturbating furiously in public and its inclusion in - incredibly - both the international and the national sections of the 37th Istanbul Film Festival is utterly baffling.

It may well be about a reclusive 30-something woman "being stuck in time in a cave-like room" because that's what it says in the festival catalogue and there are certainly recurring scenes of two women in what looks like a salt cave mouthing unspeakable dialogue.

Meanwhile the woman's sister (or is it her?) who describes herself as "a part-time vampire" who breaks hearts - and watches ping pong matches, in her spare time, visits pet shops recounting the story of Lot's Wife, turned into a pillar of salt. "Frozen in time, there's no greater curse," muses the part-time succubus to a photographer, perhaps indicting the whole process of filmmaking - who can tell?

With it's relentless austerity and jumble of ideas, this is by anyone's metric a hard watch. It's also a frightfully unedifying one. While it would be ignoble - and possibly actionable - to suggest that the lone man who bravely but unsuccessfully tried to get a round of applause going for this at the denouement of its press screening was the writer-director, Mr Cevik, it's not entirely unreasonable to suspect that the gentleman in question was at least a close friend or immediate relative of the overreachingly challenging auteur.

Reviewed on: 16 Apr 2018
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Story of a reclusive woman who, on rare trips outside her home, searches for her twin sister.

Festivals:

Istanbul 2018

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