xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
How is it that the same movie can seem tedious on first viewing and absorbing on the second? Why doesn't it grow even more tedious? In the case of "Distant," which I first saw at Cannes in 2003, perhaps it helped that I knew what the story offered and what it did not offer, and was able to see it again without expecting what would not come.
The film takes place in Turkey, but its dynamic could be transplanted anywhere -- maybe to our own families. It is about a cousin from the country who comes to the big city searching for work and asks to stay "for a few days" with his relative, who is a divorced photographer with walls filled with books and an apartment filled with sad memories.
Mahmut (Muzaffer Ozdemir) is the photographer, whose wife has divorced him and is marrying another man; the couple will move to Canada. What went wrong is not hard to guess: Mahmut is a man of habit, silent, introspective, exhausted by life. Yusuf (Mehmet Emin Toprak) comes from a town where the factory has failed, and there are no jobs; he foolishly thinks he can get hired on one of the ships in the port, but there are no jobs, and an old sailor informs him that the wages are so bad, he'll never have anything left over to send home.
It is the dead of winter. Yusuf tramps through the snow with no gloves and inadequate shoes, and his job search starts unpromisingly when the first ship he finds is listing and sinking. He haunts the coffee bars of the sailors, who smoke and wait. Mahmut, meanwhile, says goodbye to his wife and then secretly and sadly watches her leaving from the airport. He has a shabby affair with a woman who lives nearby and who will not make eye contact in a restaurant. He watches art videos (Tarkovsky, I think) to drive Yusuf from the room and then switches to porno.