“Let’s hope it’s not her”
We each possess a blind spot, one seeking to shield the horrors of life we know exist regardless. It manifests a sense of optimism in that we are safe because we live morally or that those we trust are inherently good. The opposite—to live in constant paranoia believing tragedy is inevitable—is not living at all. That’s how you imprison yourself, wall off your emotions, and ensure no one will get close enough to hurt you or deserve mourning. But we need physical contact and emotional bonds to cultivate and acknowledge how our lives are gifts. So we lie to ourselves and pretend humanity is better than reality proves and hope this universal delusion comes true. Unfortunately, some souls simply cannot escape fate revealing the truth.
I believe this is the idea writer/director Tofiq Rzayev looks to deliver with his short film Geride Kalanlar [Leftovers]. Co-written by Alsen Buse Aydin and Mehmet Fatih Güven, the Turkish drama introduces a grieving man on the cusp of that revelation. He (Gökberk Kozan) is riding through the mountains in the backseat of an unmarked police car (driven by officers played by Ismail Mermer and Erhan Sancar) to identify the body of his eight-year old sister. Suddenly the potential nightmare feared days earlier upon filing a missing persons case becomes real. And he knows the only thing he can do is ready for the worst because finding relief would be impossible. It not being her delays his closure and ultimately devastates those for whom the victim belongs.
The filmmakers latch onto this no-win scenario by exposing how quickly we turn from piously forgiving to vengefully malicious. Some dialogue feels robotic/clunky (possibly a product of the subtitled translations), but the performances are authentic nonetheless. We feel for this man and his grief so we can watch his clarity increase along with his anger when more details about the crime are revealed. As a drama about that blind spot being erased, Leftovers works pretty straightforwardly. But as a story exposing how deep-seeded and intrinsic that spot is to continue blinding us from connecting the dots of two tragedies we’d never dream were related, Rzayev’s film excels. Sadly the truth of horror often lays very close to home and unexplained incidents often the product of the simplest explanation.