Previously at the ICA - Films
26 Aug 2011 – 1 Sep 2011
The second instalment of Kaplanoglu's Yusuf trilogy, taking us further back in time, Milk follows Yusuf as he finished his studies and enters adulthood. Failing his university entrance exams, Yusuf nonetheless establishes himself as a respected published poet, yet finds his rarified sensibility at odds with his need to make a living.
Struggling, he is forced to help his mother sell milk in the local market. But his discovery that his mother is having an affair poses an unsettling dilemma. Should he behave in accordance with the traditional male-dominated rural culture and traditions of the town or should he develop a new perspective in accordance with the new modernisation process that is on-going in the area? Industrialisation, brings the opening of a new supermarket which threatens their meagre livelihood driving a further wedge between mother and son. Yet their chosen paths are unexpected as the young Yusuf turns to tradition while his mother is the one who seems to yearn for a more forward thinking emancipation.
With a gorgeous probing eye and innovative sound design, Milk's formal exploration of rural modernisation is at times reminiscent of the formal experiments of mid-period Antonioni. The heart of the film lies in how the relationship between mother and son reflects that of a country lurching into the industrial future. As Turkey gives birth to a new age, so Yusuf and his mother must find their own places in this new order - and most importantly, in each others lives.
Delicate, riveting and deeply human, Milk manages to explore the politics of Being with rare emotional power and insight.
Dir. Semih Kaplanoglu, 2008, Turkey, 102mins, Turkish with English subtitles
Cast: Melih Selcuk, Basak Koklukaya, Riza Akin