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By Mark Fulton | July 29, 2009

The high price of ten years in prison for political beliefs is somberly explored in “Autumn.” A scientist/researcher, Yusuf, is released after confinement for opposing the Turkish government. Now in his thirties, so much life has passed that he wonders the value of his sacrifice, though generally people seem supportive.

The film, which screened at this year’s LAFF, paints the beauty of the Turkish countryside and mountains in rainy grays. Ruminating atmosphere comes from everyone’s pores as Yusuf witnesses the moved-on world. His girlfriend married. His father died. His young nephew looks to his unknown uncle. His mother wants him married; hopefully grandchildren will follow, before she dies. Morning mists reflect triviality feelings. He helps his friend at a handyman business. “Autumn” sustains a delicate balance of thoughtfulness and atmosphere while exploring each aspect of life that’s been stunted.

Yusuf strikes a friendly relationship with a beautiful Russian prostitute who supports her young son. They both feel like strangers in strange lands. The friendship slowly becomes sexual as they tentatively try to have a genuine connection. It’s been a long time for both of them.

Then the last third comes off its rails. It turns into self-ponderous over done drama with the clichés of many European films. People stand off the pier staring with wrought despair into the ocean so often that it’s a wonder the waves don’t drown them out of spite. Basically, writer-director Özcan Alper runs out of story and hems-n-haws until the unsatisfying end.

I wish I could be more enthusiastic for the movie as a whole. What works is admirable. But the later parts really drag it down.

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