September 25, 2007
The first installment of Zeki Demirkubuz's Tales of Darkness trilogy (which would subsequently include The Confession and The Waiting Room), Fate is perhaps his most fully realized adoption of themes inspired by his literary influences (and self-acknowledged personal favorite among his films to date), in this case, Albert Camus's widely read, absurdist fiction, The Stranger. Fusing the essentiality of actors' faces that characterize Robert Bresson's cinema with the acute, muted humor of Darezhan Omirbaev (and on occasion, upending it, as in the case of an initially Kaïrat-like innocent encounter at a movie theater that soon escalates into awkward groping), Fate chronicles the strange turn of events in the life of a seductive, accommodating, and enigmatic junior customs clerk named Musa (Serder Orçin) who lives alone with his mother at a low rent apartment in Istabul following her death one day from natural causes. Proceeding to go to work on the (apparent) morning of his mother's death - and even working overtime - despite a nagging suspicion that something was amiss after she stayed in bed without preparing his customary breakfast (as well as failing to heed his well-intentioned coworkers' advice to check in on her at lunch time), his strange behavior would soon fall into scrutiny after he comes to the aid of his neighbor after he runs afoul with his mistress's brothers, and acquiesces to a marriage with his attractive colleague who had been carrying out a clandestine affair with their philandering, married boss. As equally bracing in its moral ambiguity as it is wryly comical in the young antihero's complacent resignation to the misaligning forces of his manipulated (and to a certain extent, self-inflicted) "fate", the film is also a probing cautionary tale of soullessness and the folly of sentimental inertia that is borne of one's complete submission to the will of external forces. It is in this respect that Demirkubuz's dark and unconventional vision remains both culturally specific and universally relevant, a scathing indictment of kismet as a scapegoat for personal accountability, and an accepted pathology to the social malady of urban alienation.