TIFF14 REVIEW: Dondurma [Ice Cream] [2014]

Score: 6/10 | ★ ★ ½

Rating: NR | Runtime: 16 minutes | Release Date: 2014 (Turkey)
Director(s): Serhat Karaaslan
Writer(s): Serhat Karaaslan

“I’ll take whatever you have”

Instead of Scott Joplin‘s “The Entertainer” signifying an oncoming ice cream truck here in the States, Turkish children must keep an ear open for the whir of a motorcycle. No matter how engaged in a game of soccer the young village boys are, they are off to the races as soon as the prospect of this rarity of sweets arrives. Being that they have no money—and that the visiting purveyor knows this to be true—the barter system comes into effect in order for iron pipes, loose eggs, and plastic to serve as legal tender in exchange for a melting cone of vanilla. And just like here in America, there’s nothing that’s going to stop a child from ensuring he isn’t left without a treat.

Written and directed by Serhat Karaaslan, Dondurma [Ice Cream] depicts this universal struggle for dessert against a parent’s wishes and without remorse. Rojhat (Rojhat Deli) shouldn’t have even been playing soccer let alone running around for something to trade since his mother (Ebru Ojen Sahin) needed his help to give the baby a bath. Like any reasonably intelligent boy, however, he knows she cannot go chase after him with his sibling out in the sun. Unfortunately for him, anything of value the Ice Cream Man (Ubeydullah Hakan) might want is back home. So he must traverse Mom’s yelling to collect whatever he can all the while demanding she buy him a treat despite not doing anything to earn it.

The result is a cute film that goes a bit long thanks to numerous tracking shots following Rojhat as he journeys for sugar. There is a reasonable amount of suspense with the mother intermittently chasing him as well as the threat that the seller could leave at any time, but ultimately you know little is bound to get in his way for too long. I’m not sure about Turkish customs but Rojhat deserved a good slap for his insubordination and I can’t help looking at the film as a how-not-to parent because he doesn’t get one. Hakan provides some nice humor with his Korean War anecdotes and Rojhat is a semi-likeable anti-hero. Being the killjoy that I am, I only wish the latter wasn’t rewarded for his deplorable actions.

courtesy of TIFF

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