A man in grief and isolation chances across a woman with her own traumas and through helping her face her demons as well as her move to motherhood, she does the very same for him – all up in the lonely watchtower. The Watchtower (2012) is a lethargic piece, making some moments simply frustrating – this is a piece that’ll be tedious for most.
The story begins with a stoic man, Nihat(Olgun Simsek), that decides to take on a job as a watchtower guard, which involves complete isolation in the woods and your only link to the outside world is a radio, walkie-talkies between guards and a routinely trip to the nearby store and restaurant. It’s here where he meets Seher (Nilay Erdönmez), a pregnant runaway that chooses to abandon her child due to the level of trauma the child was born out of.
The slow pace with which the film unravels is reminiscent of Gus Van Sant’s approach although with a lack of weight in the first half of the piece it’s difficult to find merit. The lack of a soundtrack works well in intensifying the emotions shone on the faces of our two leads, although it doesn’t help in providing the viewer with a reason to care for the characters. As the piece is mainly set in the watchtower it seems fitting to not include music, however, without musical accompaniment, the viewer is much more sensitive to each expression, word or action – meaning any that aren’t fluent can fall under scrutiny.
The piece is intimately anchored to both Nihat and Seher, resulting in the viewer naturally feeling a part of their every day. Their separate performances give the character such weight, with a feeling that they’re not simply carrying their own bodies but the trauma they’ve experienced. Together, their performances work brilliantly and it provides strength to the reality they inhabit.
The theme of redemption has been worked on repeatedly in cinema and its a disappointment to have yet another piece that’s plot is transparent. Leaving behind any mystery and in its place are calculated steps towards the not so big finish. The Watchtower (2012) is likely to be missed but if not, the viewer will be introduced to a different approach to cinema which may result in nail-biting frustration, though it will provide them with some age-old wisdom on the importance on dealing with one’s own demons.
Dir: Pelin Esmer
Scr: Pelin Esmer
Cast: Olgun Simsek, Nilay Erdönmez, Laçin Ceylan, Menderes Samancilar etc
Prd: Nida Karabol
DOP: Eken Özgür
Runtime: 96 mins
The Watchtower is out now on DVD.