Directions: Banu Sivaci
Debutant Turkish writer/director Banu Sivaci comes up with a quirky script in The Pigeon, a slow-paced art-house drama that aspires to be more than what really is. The story centers on Yusuf (Kemal Burak Alper), an unsociable young boy living in the slums of Adana, south of Turkey. He nurtures a longstanding obsession with pigeons to the point of sleeping, washing, and eating in the rooftop of his parents’ home. He inherited this passion from his late grandfather, something that his older brother, Halil (Ruhi Sari), was never able to understand.
Lacking any sort of enthusiasm apart from the birds, Yusuf starts working in a garage and, suddenly, ends up out of town as part of an exploited crew assigned for a one-week job. Panicking with the simple thought of leaving the pigeons without supervision, Yusuf takes a train back home. Penniless, he travels underneath a seat to remain out of the sight of the ticket controller. However, when he gets home, he gets disgusted with what he sees.
The tension keeps floating considerably along the way, but its peak is reached when a thug slashes Yusuf’s favorite pigeon, Maverdi, in retaliation for an incident occurred with his own carrier pigeon. Aimless, Yusuf fights to protect his dovecote. He can’t afford to lose the only thing that makes him happy and distracted from the stress and afflictions of the outside world. Not even a pretty local woman, with whom he occasionally dreams of, seems capable to make him go in a different direction.
Despite the simplistic vision and timid filmmaking process, Sivaci had the precious hand of Arda Yildiran, the director of photography, in the capture of attractive colors and in the purpose of giving the images a fine, sharp glow. Besides conveying both the purity and naivety of Yusuf’s personality by depicting his stronger affinity with birds and detachment from people, this bittersweet drama also makes us think about work and eke out a living. Still, I struggled to empathize and connect emotionally with the central character.