eighteen + 14 =

five × two =

Album [2016] is the feature debut of Turkish writer/director Mehmet Can Mertoglu starring a husband, Murat Kiliç, and wife, Sebnem Bozoklu, who attempt to keep secret the fact they adopted a child rather than had a natural birth.

Need A Glass Of Water? This is as dry as dry gets. Precisely composed static wide shots, saturated colors, and straight (at times monotonous) dialogue give this film the feel of a wannabe Roy Andersson or Yorgos Lanthimos. The premise is simple, silly, and absurd. The story is subtle yet ridiculous. Some moments are simply damn funny and others are a drudging mystery. This is as dry a comedy as any. If that’s your cup of tea, this is a damn fine comedy.

What Matters? The film opens with a sequence showing the process of artificially inseminating a cow and ultimately the cow giving birth. After the title card, this scene is completely forgotten and the story moves on to the couple taking photos of themselves, fake pregnant belly on display, in multiple spaces such as an aquarium, the beach, and so forth. The couple is going to great lengths to make a photo album filled with pregnancy photos to prove that their soon to be adopted child is, in fact, their own natural son. Those who assist in this process are visually annoyed, rolling their eyes and questioning the absurdity of the notion. We never quite find out why this is so important for the couple, but they are far from willing to let anyone know the truth. It all seems in vain, however. Later on, when a moment comes and the wife asks her friend if she wants to see the photo, she is declined. Many scenes through the film put the characters in a place with a purpose, only for the scene to wander and digress for minutes at a time until the story is allowed to move on. What matters to anyone in this world? These characters are here to adopt, to build a family, to paint a portrait, yet everyone around them seems involved in their own lives and situations. After all this hard work, does anyone really give a shit about the legitimacy of your child? Why does it matter? What’s the point?

Where’s the Detour? Eventually, the film as a whole seems to follow these scenes. The story becomes less about hiding the adoption and turns into scenes of mundanity (detour). The family is even robbed by a thief we never see as they apparently leaped out of the window and died (detour). This detour leads us on a twenty minute procedure of bland conversation (detour) that eventually leads to a statement about the crime which leads our character to another drawn out conversation (detour) that ends in the shattering (yet obvious) reveal that an adoption is of course recorded in one’s personal file and wouldn’t be a secret from everyone so now what do we do!? This is horrible!? Now, what!?  Why does it matter?

What’s the Point? The film obviously has a message with its opening shot in comparison to the couple. Though we’re never given a reason why the couple is adopting it would seem safe to assume it’s not due to health reasons. So if it’s so easy to artificially inseminate a cow and help it give birth, why go through such struggle to pretend that an adopted child is your own when you might go through the same process as a cow with less hassle? It’s silly, I know. But this is a comedy, and that’s the kind of statement that a comedy like this would make. A silly statement, a silly premise, a silly film. When it’s funny it’s a hearty chuckle, when it detours it’s a bit of a hassle. Ultimately it’s a competent and special kind of filmmaking and storytelling on display that’s worth exploring.

Dry, absurd, but a slight chore at times, Album is a comedy that owns its highs and lows confidently and is a stronger, funnier film for it.

Album
3.5Overall Score
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