Kiskanmak (Envy)

Random thought: you can always see other great production that is very popular in Turkey - it's called the series of Fake Taxi

What You Should Know About The Envy Movie

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The basis of Envy

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Envy is based off the novel by Nahid Sirri Örik whose original title was Kiskanmak. As is common with any film that has been adapted from a novel, putting out the work into film can be tedious and especially when it involves love and deceit (probably because of all the off-set facts that readers are usually detailed and which is hard to do in films). Therefore, there are a lot of things that you can pick up from the Kiskanmak novel that are not detailed in the film.

The main story in envy

Örik’s work can be detailed as beautiful and thoughtful pieces that detail women as people who are driven emotionally by their selfish desires hence providing a nice adaptation for the screens (probably one of the reasons why Demirkubuz took up his novel). The main story behind envy is that of a couple, Halit and Mükerrem, who live together with the husband’s sister, Seniha. Of considerable importance is the age difference between the couple with Halit, the husband being 40 years while his wife Mükerrem being 25 years of age. Seniha is also detailed as having zealous hatred towards his brother but which is not brought clearly in the film.

Mukerrem feelings after the affair

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Mükerrem cheats on her husband with Nüzhet, son to a wealthy town family, and Seniha gets to find out. However, Mükerrem is brought out as a character that strongly loves her husband and therefore one would be at pangs trying to understand why she would cheat on him in the first place. However, the book pretty much details this quite well. In the book it is shown that Mükerrem did not have the first honeymoon passion reminiscent in any couple after their wedding. Therefore, even after being in love with Halit, Mükerrem still feels an urge deep inside her that makes her struggle between being a good wife and attaining her own internal desires (which she knows Halit can’t provide). Seniha notices this and bets on when her brother’s wife will cheat on him in order for her to take her revenge on his brother.

Why would Seniha revenge?

Again, without reading the book, you would wonder why Seniha would want to revenge on her brother and yet they are siblings. The film tries to show this by detailing the constrained communication between the two; however the truth lies in the book. Seniha always felt left out whilst they were growing up with Halit. Their parents always favoured Halit and this was echoed in their actions as well. When Halit went abroad to study for engineering Seniha fell left out on her education, however she shrugged the whole issue and fell in love. However due to her parents’ concerns over the money they had set out for Halit’s education, they could not accept to get into wedding arrangements for Seniha hence rejecting to give her out. Over time, Seniha crawled into her own cocoon of selflessness and bitterly accused her brother of her troubles in her heart. This is why she always felt that she should revenge for having failed to be with her own lover.

Envy is commendable

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The film is quite interesting but you should have all the facts set out right in order for you to enjoy the whole drama. However, if you are not a bookie then be sure that Demirkubuz did a good job at highlighting the main themes of the whole story in the best way possible. This is a highly recommended must see for anyone who loves romantic movies with a twist of deceit and hatred.

What Next After Envy?

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Demirkubuz and ethical dilemmas in movies

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Envy is one of those movies by Demirkubuz that has a deep story behind it such that moving on to another film is hard unless its storyline is as exhilarating as the screen play. However, this should not be a problem to you considering that there other movies that have been done by Demirkubuz that deserve a mention due to the immense work that has been put behind them as well as having a deep storyline that resonates well with the audience. Zeki makes movies that involve ethical dilemmas and usually involve; love, lust, deceit and selflessness. So if you are interested in Zeki Demirkubuz’s work, then you should check out some of his recent works which include “Bulanti”, Nausea (released in 2015) and “Yeralti”, Inside (released in 2012).

Fans reaction to protagonist movies

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Yeralti is a film based off ‘Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground’ with its setting being in Turkey rather than in original Russia. It tells the tale of a former writer (read failed writer) who is much engrossed in discovering himself that he decides to be honest with everyone about his emotions and whatever he thinks about. This does not go well with those close to him and they quickly start to avoid him because of this which leads him into a world of oblivion where he is all alone. The whole story is about the objective of being alive and the rewards being sort. The main protagonist in this film questions having to work in the same place every day and as such ends up getting into his own imagination in order to find another world where he can derive some sort of reason for his existence. It is a classic piece of Demirkubuz in explaining how humanity manifests on its own.

Bulanti

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Bulanti on the other hand is a film about an academic, Ahmet (which Zeki himself acts as), who gets into a recluse after both his wife and daughter die in a car accident. The film almost like Yeralti, shows how Ahmet struggles in getting to relate with other people as he mostly prefers being on his own. The story as well borders on the nature of being human and Zeki’s acting is brilliant considering that he is the only person who understands how he would want to portray the protagonist in the movie. As is reminiscent in his films the film will get you immersed in careful thought all through its screening and more afterwards on the meaning of being in existence.

Other notable works by Demirkubuz

Apart from these two, other notable works of Demirkubuz are Kader, which went on to win an award for the Best Film in 2006 at Antalya Golden Orange Film. This is a must watch on the list of Demirkubuz’s best films. You should also watch Frenzy directed by Emin Alper (a more recent modern theme that tells the tale of modern Turkey) and Kor by Zeki Demirkubuz released in 2016. With these other options to watch, you will definitely appreciate the movie culture that is being born out of Turkey.

General Review of Kiskanmak the Film

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Kiskanmak is a Turkish film by director Zekir Demirkubuz. Kiskanmak is the Turkish word for Envy.  The film is based off Nahid Sirri Orik’s 1946 book called “Kiskanmak.”  The film follows the plot of the novel with some adaptations for its 2009 debut.  Orik is the author of multiple novels that revolve around themes of narcissistic, carnally driven women.  Kiskanmak is a film set in 1930s Turkey.  The film occurs only seven years after the establishment of the current form of Turkish government and echoes the then new democratic ideals in which the country was moving toward in that time.

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The film is about a protagonist who is an ugly sister who lives with her brother and his wife.  The protagonist is envious of her sister-in-law and her sister-in-law is having an affair.  In the process of the ugly sister discovering her sister-in-law’s affair, she deliberately launches petty, carnal, narcissistic means to unravel her brother’s marriage, all of which she wished to do from the beginning of their marriage.

The sources of the protagonist’s bitter and jealous attitudes towards her brother’s happiness is hinted upon and skittered around in the film.  The major reason for this seems to be her acceptance that she is the ugly sister, where her ugliness was once her self-perception but become the internationalization of a transformed character of ugliness bent upon the carnality of trivial matters and progressively psychotic hate of her brother’s appearances of happiness.  It is a vain hate just as her brother’s apparent happiness is a happiness of appearance.  The depth and substance of any of the characters is clearly formative, as if they are simply actors within a stage place with no dimensions of personality.  Yet their lives are not plays, the one dimensionality of their characters is a mirror for the formative dynamic of the Republic with appearances and ideals, but little awareness of its internal dynamics that would protect from political upheaval down the line.

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It is appropriate to view this film in light of the consistent contemporary upheaval in Turkey, to suggest a historical origin of an emotional and psychological nature to the eventual culmination of unraveling even the appearances of beauty to reveal the raw emotions and their social causes.  Kiskanmak is a film of appearances and what lurks beneath appearances.  It is a film of relationships founded upon biases that have festered secretly and silently for years, mutating into levels of psychosis that defy the conventional availability of treatment and intervention.

Demirkubuz’s adaptation in this context, has more important messages for a modern world obsessed with beauty in a way that imprisons beauty in relationships of such sound familiarity that the mundane and passionless pursuit of external happiness takes away from any meaningful foundation of self-fulfillment.  The emptiness of material things and materials lives whose production is the life presence of industrial culture creates emptiness in the lives of those who live them.  Without any resources for where to turn in the moment when that emptiness can no longer be contained within the walls of houses and roles of gendered expectations, that emptiness attacks.

Kiskanmak is the documentary of an empty time, with ideals and material success, but no idea of what self-fulfillment might be for each individual.  It is about the slow growth of realization of the need for self-fullment and how that lesson comes as bitter as the first.  In Kiskanmak, one can draw the general conclusion that the men are cold, salty, and mechanically beautiful while the women are empty and impression yet full of tossing and turning passions for which they have no cognitive capacity to navigate.

 

General Review of KiskanmakThe Book

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Kiskanmak is a 1946 book written by NahidSirriOrik. Orik was born May 1995 in Istanbul and died in January 1960. His professional work was as a writer and translator. He was self-educated after dropping out of law school in 1913.  He was well travelled across major cultural and historical cities within Europe and during these travels he worked for the Ministry of National Education. He has become famous for his stories, travel writing, and literature and history research. His novels were published posthumously in 1994. Kiskanmak is Orik’s second novel, after a first novel that was written in French. After Kiskanmak, he wrote two other novels.  Another of his works, While Sultan Hamit Fell was adapted for stage play then eventually for movies in 2003. Furthermore, he wrote five plays explicitly for the stage.  His most famous essays in literature and history were formally published in magazines and there are about seven major works that have become popular. Orik also wrote a memoir and at least one of his novels contained a character that was explicitly about him.

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Kiskanamak is a book that was set in 1930 Turkey, seven years after the founding of the Turkish Republic. The book is as much political and historical as it is psychological. It is not an easy book to picture on the big screen as the book is not a jammed packed, action oriented tale, but rather a tale of truly unremarkable people. Perhaps, what paved the way was Orisk’s popularity with his other works and that the film version of Kiskanmak would make a literary and artistic endeavor.

In the movie, Demirkurbuz adds only two scenes to the general plot found within the book. The book, however, contains psychological background that the movie does not directly divulge; rather, it indirectly infers that there is a back-story with scenic cures and symbolism.  Among the symbology the film uses to address the complex psychological narrative within the novel are portraits of the home and domestic life of the women as if the home were a prison, to suggest that there is something innately prisonlike about the construction of gender within Turkish society and that the prisonlike conditions are the sources of psychological issues.

The background story within the book is easier to follow.  In the book, the main character’s background history of jealously towards her brother is revealed.  During her life, little attention was paid to her needs as a woman, her future, her feelings, her thoughts, and her dreams.  She suffers from serious neglect and diminishment as well as the constant rejection and labeling of her physical appearance as ugly.  She is constantly passed up for opportunities that are freely availability to a degree of expected celebration and ambition for her brother, yet fully denied for her as if she were a task to put off until there was time.  There is a psychological dwarfing that occurs whereby she is left with little psychological recourse but to focus upon the little things that eventually intertwine within her to produce aspects of her personality that fulfilled the projections and treatments she received during her life.

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That backdrop is part of what led the main character to grow in hate towards her brother. Her parents attempted to marry her to a widowed man with three kids; however, she ended up living with her brother and his wife. Her sister-in-law was also unremarkably miserable and eventually led herself into an affair. When the ugly sister-in-law found out, she endeavored to destroy each of their lives, somehow utilizing moral outrage to fuel the immorality of pathological jealously that had festered for years before her brother’s marriage. The affair was simply an opportunity for her to express passions and desires that she had no language for nor cognitive capacity to manage.

The setting of Orik’s novel shows how any psychotherapeutic remedy and support for women’s inner lives was out of the question at the time, and the focus of the country and homes of the time was in supporting ideals and appearance, while ignoring growing emptiness, gendered imprisonment, and the psychological health of women to the point that they were objects there to perform a role. Although the book was pre-feminist, the feminist overtones emerge strongly in the films adaptation leading to a reading of the book where it is hard to ignore the oppressive circumstances that lead people and societies to become ugly.

 

Review of Kiskanmak Cinematography

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ZekirDemirkubuz’s film, Kiskanmak, explores cinematography from an artistic and conceptual minimalist lens, leaving much to the imagination for viewers. Kiskanmak is the Turkish word for envy. The film based off NahidSirriOrik’s 1946 book called “Kiskanmak.” The film explores themes of beauty and ugliness in the character of a person and how that beauty and ugliness transform overtime. Demerikubuz’s adaptation is absent of the general beauty qualifiers such as large sweeping scores and voice overs, touch-ups and other beauty affects that make contemporary films alluring, in keeping with Demerikubuz’s philosophy as well as his insistence that the film be true to the concept of the novel.

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The film follows the plot of the novel with some adaptations for its 2009 debut. Orik is the author of multiple novels that revolve around themes of narcissistic, carnally driven women. Kiskanmak is a film set in 1930s Turkey. The film occurs only seven years after the establishment of the current form of Turkish government and echoes the then new democratic ideals in which the country was moving toward in that time.

The protagonist of the film Kiskanmak, a lonely, bitter, melancholic, woman had little options for self-progress in a country and family whose primary objectives where focuses on men.  The main protagonist of the work maintains certain hollowness and a certain air that placed her at odds with the meaningful ideals of her deeper hopes.   Demerikubuz utilizes washed out clothing and frames to create a 1930s vibe.  The production is minimal by modern standards, devoid of broad sweeping soundtracks, voice overs and the settle appearances of seduction and attractiveness that generally make characters, no matter how ugly, somehow seem beautiful for the screen.  Demerikubuz diminishes this contemporary cinematic habit in favor of a truthful portrayal.

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Perhaps, one reason for Demerikubuz’s style for this film is to strip the normal expectations of beauty to show the accuracy of character, as if the actual beauty and creation of character depth is within the environment and the portrayal, rather than the way directors can make up characters to seem more appealing.  At the end, the viewer gets a sense of the main characters ugliness as a result of Demerikubuz’s insistence on her unremarkable presentation.  It presents an authentic portrayal, rather than one constructed through expectations, such as to say that it is a departure from the values of beauty that overshadow authenticity and human depth.  In a meaningful way, this film corrects what went wrong in Turkish society that gave rise to the book:  it refuses to allow beauty to be defined in mere appearances alone mixed with idealistic and ambitious political aims and dubious, unfulfilling, moral ways of navigating the world that are more hypocritical and accommodating of raw, unrefined, and destructive human urges than human fulfillment, authenticity, and meaning.

The film explores internal beauty in a way that subtly comments on the way beauty is constructed in culture but also within the individual imagination and response to challenges.  Viewers are left with little sympathy for the protagonist as her personal flaws are made apparent the connections between the outcomes of her life become apparent.  The protagonist is essentially a woman who is ugly towards her sister-in-law who in turn is ugly in a different way towards to expectations of her marriage.  The protagonist’s brother is ugly in a manner that paints a portrait of a coal miner and engineer who is mobile within the world, yet only in appearances.  This is a metaphor for Turkey itself, pregnant with ideals of a new republic, quick to keep up with world social statuses, yet secretly and internally rippling with ugliness of a non-physical nature.

3 Contemporary Themes of Kiskanmak

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Kiskanmak is a film about envy and jealously in a newly founded republic in 1930s Turkey. Throughout the contemporary adaptation of the 1946, there are various themes that bring to the forefront the deeper implications of the original work.  Some of these themes could, of course, only be explored after certain worldwide revolutions such as developments in feminism and looking at Turkish history with practical and even psychological lens.  This post explores five essential themes that are present with the film and how those themes expand to larger social issues within current Turkish society and the world.

Theme 1:  Ugliness is something that a person becomes, not what a person is.

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The ontological relationship between beauty and ugliness is explored within the film adaptation in a meaningful way that the book also seeks to describe. The idea of this ontological relationship is that beauty and ugliness are matters of becoming and matters of how a person develops themselves, rather than an essentialists notion that one is either beautiful or they are not. The main character is told that she is ugly and through life circumstances and her family treatment she comes to believe and describe herself as ugly.  Eventually, she acts upon her ugliness, showing that it was an ugliness that took time and questioning what if beauty took the same amount of time and effort.  The idea that beauty is something that grows, learnings, and works towards a goal is absent from the worldview of the culture at that time and the strongest impact is upon the women, who bear the burden of not having any social and professional outlets to allow their inner feelings or passions to be explored, understood, and heard.  It is a culture that imprisons beauty and punishes ugliness, as if both to be beautiful and to be ugly are both punishable and the only escape is through the underworld of hate and irrational behavior that eventually lead to some type of overturning of the social structure and some version of liberation.

Theme 2:  Physical appearances are only one dimension of beauty

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Physical appearance is an important dimension of beauty.  Kiskanmak shows how 1930s Turkish society was concerned with the appearances of success, primarily for men, and familiar marriage relationships. Its definition of beauty was in keeping up with the appearances.  The film shows that beauty is also about the inner lives of individuals over the course of time and the lessons they learn that give direction to their lives. The film shows that to be ugly is not a sentence but a choice, and to be ugly to those who have shown kindness or to those who are simply moving on with their lives in their way is a way of asserting authority from the powerlessness and the voiceless. The film shows that that powerless and voiceless has social causes, such as the diminution of opportunities and the importance of inner happiness for women based on gender and of which appearances have a considerable amount of influence within Turkish culture of the times.

Theme 3:  Political appearances often mean raw emotions beneath

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The films political commentary is subtle, yet the correlations are easy to see. The newly found republic was based upon ideals that were incorporated in the lifestyles of the characters. But like a new country, the characters were making their way through a world not fully aware of the inner foundations and infrastructure necessary to maintain a sense of authentic and practical wellbeing. Instead, their focus on appearances, diminution of the value and needs of women, and ignoring of the inner, festering illnesses of character led to digressing into trivial fighting, transgressing those noble ideals that once seemed fitting.

Beauty and Self Perception in Kiskanmak

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Kiskanmak is a film about question beauty and self-perception and how self-perception creates beauty.  The viewer is led to question whether beauty is innate and a matter of genes or is it a matter of self-perception that develops over time or is it a matter of social opportunities and choices.  The self-described ugly sister who is the main protagonist blames her brother for not attempting to find her proper marriage after her parents refused to invest in the appropriate dowry to marry the suitor of her choice.

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She blames this situation on her ugliness and her neglect from her parents which are the external factors.  Yet, the internal factors, that no one seemed to really care about are what made her an ugly person and it was only after the manifestation of her actions that she could see that she can become ugly through misery, blame and treachery and through meddling in the appearances of happiness of her brother and his wife.

 

Self-perception is thus balanced between the internal worlds and external realities.  Interestingly, the main protagonist’s internal world is the only serious internal world on display, yet the viewer wonders what of the internal world of the culture, the society, and everyone else.  It seems that her ugliness was not the only ugliness present that it was her appearances through brought attention to it, yet, it was also an ugly that she shared. Yet, the shared ugliness is not as much emotionally raw as it is idealistic, empty, and adolescent in its desire to achieve world status and victory.   The protagonist’s responses are thus adolescent responses, wherein beauty and self-perception, vanities, and appearances are generally those most important during adolescence growth stages.

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The main character grows into the projections and the life conditions, including treatment of neglect that were places upon her.  This growth and the process of seeing this growth, provided the viewer with an unusual and authentic perception of the main character, where she was neither victim nor was she saint.  She was human with flaws and needs, opportunities for beauty and opportunities for ugliness.  She was human with choices for determining her life, yet she lived the majority of her life as if her choices were the responsibility of others.  In turned out at the end that she was as much to blame and those she projected her blame upon.  Yet, she also learned about the harm of projections, how they can wreak havoc, and how they are not necessarily about anything of a higher ideal.  In the absence of any meaningful understanding of these processes, she and everyone she was related were left to flounder through a cold, black sea, as if the town’s situation by the black town with the main export of coal production, became the coldness and hardness through which they each navigated caves of desire.

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The film is as much as about adolescent growth processes around beauty within an adolescent culture as it is about the very adult circumstances of marriage, career, and care of unmarried persons.  The latter is perennial throughout cultures, yet the first aspect is something that is unique to emerging cultures in newly founded republics as well as emerging worldviews after philosophical upheavals and the realizations of deeper value and worth.  The film comments on a common worldly theme of how possessions and the passiveness of wives and a good home does not necessarily guarantee happiness, and it takes internal awareness to navigate the underground currents of personality that inevitably surface and individuals overcome their own injustices and reach towards higher currents of self-awareness and self-perception.  Yet, beauty and self-perception where the only availabilities and self-awareness and its spouse, self-determination where seen only at the end, heralding the actual beginning of life.  Could this also be a metaphor that a republic established in beautiful ideals and moderately aware of its self-perception was also on a path of growth towards understanding its self-awareness and ability to evaluate itself through looking into a mirror that saw pass physical appearances?

 

 

 

A Family Tale Of Love, Deceit And Betrayal

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An overview of main characters in Envy

The 2009 movie, Envy (original title Kiskanmak) was based off the novel by Nahid Sirri Örik and directed by Zeki Demirkubuz. It is a story of a married woman who falls in love with a young man and gets into an affair with him, with his husband being oblivious of the happenings in his home. The only person who knows what is happening is the husband’s sister who lives with the family and she uses this to her advantage in breaking up the whole family. The sister is by convention not a beautiful woman, a fact that takes a toll on her emotional wellbeing since her brother’s wife is pretty much an attractive woman and the opposite of her. This therefore creates the setting by which the whole movie is based on. The married woman, Mükerrem is acted by Nergis Öztürk, the husband, Halit is played by Serhat Tutumluer and his sister Seniha is acted by Berrak Tüzünataç.

Drama in envy

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Kiskanmak is a tale detailing love, deceit and betrayal and has some elements of sibling rivalry among its themes. The whole story is dramatic and it gets the viewer thinking a lot and trying to understand how every detail comes into play. For example, the movie pretty much shows that Seniha is ostensibly quite happily married to Halit and she is mostly engrossed in the social side shows that she attends. However, Nüzhet, son to a wealthy family in town, displays sexual advances to her which she comes to agree to after some time of rejecting his advances.

Deceit as depicted in envy

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The story also shows the deceit that Seniha has on both her brother and his wife and how she weaves in every detail in the plot in order to succeed in making her brother miserable. Her source of anger towards her brother is however not properly detailed but is associated to sibling rivalry in a classic case of their parents favouring Halit more to Seniha.

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The film however suffers some major setbacks with the acting in it. Nergis Öztürk is the only character that fits in directly in her role and acts the role with sheer mastery. The whole story and setting is placed well and the film is shot amid backdrops of lights flickering about that is reminiscent of the 1930’s and the fogged windows do a mighty lot in placing the viewer into that particular place and time.

Demirkubuz and space for improvement

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Demirkubuz major undoing is not combining the movie with music and has been quoted as saying that the courtship between movies and cinemas is not meant to be. His adoption of music in some of his scenes would have been quite a huge boost to the storyline and the theatrical nature of some of his actors especially Nergis Öztürk.  However, Demirkubuz pretty much shows the human side of the movie as is common in all of his works and the fact that Envy is his first foray in the world of women’s drama, we should definitely expect better from him anytime in the future.

 

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