Abdullah Oguz

Abdullah Oguz – Mutluluk AKA Bliss (2007)

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In spite of the palpable ubiquity of misogyny across many diverse quarters of the Arabic world, filmic representation of the Middle Eastern female subaltern often feels reductive, and at its most egregious it can seem a subtle endorsement of the very behavior it ostensibly means to penetrate and vilify. Though not quite an unintentional apologia for sexism, the Turkish film Bliss is an illustration of how inadequate fiction can be at tackling the über-sober topic of sexual victimization. Mere hours before the movie’s first scene, young adult Meryem (Özgü Namal) is brutally violated and left for dead on a pastoral beach adjacent to her small village; despite the glaringly nonconsensual nature of the forced coupling she’s endured, her community ostracizes her as a strumpet per tradition and has her ushered out of town to be executed by Cemal (Murat Han), a male cousin returning from military service. In the first two acts Cemal wrestles with his own demons (mostly yawningly recondite combat flashbacks) as he struggles to maintain cultural dignity at the cost of committing what he clearly views to be senseless murder, and Meryem is a tangle of frayed nerves that we suspect obscure some painfully trite twists (we’re correct). Read More »