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About Dry Grasses (2023)

About Dry Grasses (2023)

A self-absorbed misanthrope makes his own misery in this desolate drama driven entirely by dialogue

7.4

Movie

France, Germany
Turkish
Drama
2023
NURI BILGE CEYLAN
Cengiz Bozkurt, Deniz Celiloğlu, Ece Bağcı
197 min

TLDR

I wish we got to see this through Nuray’s perspective.

What it's about

Finishing up his fourth year of compulsory service in wintry East Anatolia, young public school art teacher Samet yearns to leave for the warmer, cosmopolitan Istanbul, but cannot do so due to allegations that prevent him from the move. Because of this, Samet loses hope, though an encounter with fellow teacher Nuray might help him confront his circumstances.

The take

Given the controversial subject matter, there’s something remarkably placid about the way About Dry Grasses proceeds. Amidst the snowy white steppes of Eastern Anatolia, writer-director Nuri Bilge Ceylan slowly lets the plot unfold through multiple conversations, where an accusation of inappropriate contact leads to a he-said, she-said investigation, all centered around a misanthropic protagonist Samet. By focusing the entire film on Samet, Ceylan takes the time to understand this difficult, exhausting character in a detached manner, with the camera oftentimes taking in the whole lived-in, rundown places where Samet lives and works in. It’s an interesting perspective, depicting the ways everyone’s fumbling around, trying to create boxes to understand one’s place in the world, but it’s not an easy one to explore. About Dry Grasses dares to do so, anyway.

What stands out

The runtime. With the film being over three hours, and conducted mostly through conversations, the pacing makes the runtime feel challenging, especially for viewers new to Ceylan’s style.

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