Sunday, January 30, 2022

Gülizar (1972)

Mid-century Hollywood delivered plenty of fun romantic comedies, before the scene eventually changed. We still got new rom-coms, but updated for a modern era, as things often are. But there are always holdouts, and such films were still in vogue even 20 years later in countries such as Turkey, for which we can be grateful. Despite changing times, there were still plenty of films to scratch that Doris Day style itch, such as 1972s Gülizar...

Pervin is a mischievous girl, fresh out of school and eager to have fun. For a laugh, she applies at a nightclub (under a pseudonym), and to her surprise is accepted. She soon attracts the attention of playboy Suat, and it turns out the couple are betrothed to each-other. Eager to rebuff his advances, Pervin causes him to break off the engagement, but this only causes more trouble when the in-laws all wonder why Suat's ignoring their daughter in favour of this singer-Gülizar...

Gülizar is a fairly conventional romcom, both by its own country's standards, and internationally. This is a good thing, as it's a thoroughly enjoyable time. There are all the expected characters, conflicts, and cliches, but all handled in a fun way.

The movie is fairly simple, as well as economical. We're introduced well to our heroine, and her life. In fact the movie could've done a little more. Pervin's school life is almost immediately dispensed with, as if she graduated offscreen. I'm not saying it should've stayed a major element of the movie, but an extra scene or two would've been nice.

After the set-up, the film mainly focuses on Suat trying to woo Gülizar, with mixed success, until he finally charms his way through her hard exterior. There's a bit of drama, but never unbearably so, and the romance feels believable enough.

Pervin, alias Gülizar, is an enjoyable lead. Sweet, and slightly naughty, she's always fun to watch. Likewise, Suat is your typical Casanova, swanning from woman to woman, until he sees the one girl he can't have, and suddenly he's ensnared.

Meanwhile, the fathers off the prospective in-laws find themselves at each-other's throats after the marriage falls through, and their arguments grow more and more heated, all while their wives sit on the sidelines, exasperated at what men they're being.

The movie is broken up by a few songs. These are nice enough, and never feel crowbarred in, since it is the heroine's place of work, and its nice to see how great of a singer and performer she is, rather than just be told. Is it just an excuse to throw a few songs in, and to give Emel something to do with her main talent? Sure, but since when is that a bad thing!

There's some good comedy here, with many funny scenes. Some highlights being Pervin 'attempt' at suicide, and the barfight near the end, which is sudden and ridiculous, as all bar fights should be. Pervin's disguise to scare Suat away is also great, and will send a chill of terror down any man's spine.

Being a Turkish film there is also drama, but never overly so. There are moments that verge on melodramatic, which is to be expected, but these never dominate, and are over quickly.

Visually, Gülizar is a treat. The colours really pop out, and there's always lots of good cinematography to catch our attention. One highlight is the musical number at the start, which has an almost Bollywood vibe, with the sudden costume change and the nifty props. Pervin herself is also visually distinct. Among a crowd of identically dressed schoolgirls, her flash of red hair makes her instantly stand out.

The acting is a high point. Emel Sayın is gorgeous, a great singer, and acts well too. Ediz Hun is good, getting moments of humour, while also being suave enough. Both carry the comedy as well as the drama. Hulusi Kentmen and Atif Kaptan are fun as the duelling fathers, and the rest of the cast entertain.

Gülizar is a simple but fun addition to Turkey's classic rom-com collection. It's an entertaining and universal film, regardless of how little Turkish you may speak...

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