Last Call for Istanbul (2023)

Last Call for Istanbul (2023)

A seemingly generic Turkish romance travel film, until it gets into its second half



English, Turkish
Drama, Romance
Beren Saat, Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ, Michael Loayza
91 min


Plot twist done right! Though, I wish they made a different choice when it came to the ending.

What it's about

After fellow traveler Serin lost her luggage, Turkish musician Mehmet helps her find it, in an unforgettable and exciting night in New York City.

The take

At first, the Last Call for Istanbul feels like one of those serendipitous travel romances reminiscent of Before Sunrise. As Serin and Mehmet enjoy New York at night, it’s absolutely enchanting, especially with the unique, striking mirrored transitions that shift between the two as they get ready, but this nighttime stroll has already been walked on before, complete with droll dialogue and impulsive choices. However, the film makes a shift to its second half, and it suddenly reconfigures what we know about the two and their romance. While it does employ other familiar romance tropes, it’s still an intriguing shift that explores the concept of possibilities, and the cost in choosing one over the others.

What stands out

There’s something about traveling that makes it easier to fantasize about possibilities – and that includes the possibility of romance with an airport crush. However, choosing a possibility can mean closing doors to others, and this is what Last Call for Istanbul explores. The first half portrays the fulfillment of that romantic possibility, a magical, serendipitous night where you meet someone attractive and somehow get closer, a la Before Sunrise, while the second half removes the blinds. These themes aren’t particularly new on film, but the way the story unfolds is. It’s an excellent plot twist, one that’s rightfully earned, and it makes for an interesting romance, if you can take the time to get there.


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