Turkish cinema evokes a breathtaking tapestry of lush landscapes, grandiose villas nestled on hillsides, and moving stories that stick with moviegoers long after the credits have rolled. The imagery is nothing short of mesmerizing, transporting audiences into a world of untamed natural beauty and architectural marvels that are simply awe-inspiring. And yet, it is the emotional depth and richness of the stories told that truly leave a lasting impression and a significant impact on those fortunate enough to experience these cinematic treasures.
“Chokehold,” directed by Hakan Gundey, is one such work of art. The movie follows the story of two lovebirds, Yalin and Byeza, a couple seeking refuge in a serene hillside village far removed from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul. However, what they thought to be a breath of fresh air, soon turned into a nightmare when the villagers began conspiring to throw them out. The movie also doesn’t fall short in the area of interesting and multilayered characters, a few of which we’ll explore in this article.
Kivanç Tatlitug As Yalin
Kivanc Tatlitug’s portrayal of his character is a tour de force, showcasing his exceptional range and talent as an actor. With meticulous attention to detail, Tatlitug has skillfully breathed life into his character, leaving no aspect unexplored. Yalin is a man haunted by his past, a former businessman who once lived a life of luxury and success in Istanbul. Seeking solace and redemption, he retreats with his wife, Byeza, to the tranquil village of Assos. However, Yalin’s past catches up with him, as his history of swindling hardworking people out of their savings and striking a deal with the law to save his own skin becomes known to the village locals.
This news sparks a fierce conflict between Yalin and the villagers, threatening to shatter the peace he so desperately sought. Yalin’s first confrontation comes in the form of a violent altercation with a local shopkeeper, who tried to strangle him. Left with no choice, Yalin kills the shopkeeper with a rock in self-defense. It’s one thing to rob a person, and it’s another to murder someone, and the strain of crossing that threshold begins to take a toll on Yalin’s mental health, and it wasn’t long before he was hit with sleepless nights, and sights of Cavet’s ghost. Soon he began seeing the faces of everyone who’s killed themselves after losing money in his scheme.
Gurgen Oz As Selami Toker
Sergent Selami was one of the cops who was investigating the sudden disappearance of the Cavdet and had a special interest in Yalin, as he, like many others, had invested his life’s savings in Yalin’s Ponzi scheme. Despite being a relatively unremarkable cop, Selami proves to be a skilled and intuitive investigator, honing in on a key piece of evidence that ultimately sheds new light on the case. Selami makes it abundantly clear to Yalin that many in the village are out for revenge, having lost their life savings to Yalin’s Ponzi scheme. Selami also made it clear that he has no intention of stopping those people, and his own investment in the scheme only adds to the tension between him and Yalin.
Funda Eryigit As Byeza
Byeza was Yalin’s significant other and most probably the one who had convinced him to abandon the hustle-bustle of city life, so they could both keep everything behind and start afresh. Regrettably, Byeza’s faith in Yalin began to falter when she detected a familiar pattern of secrecy in his behavior. For Byeza, secrecy was a poison that had nearly destroyed their relationship in the past. As her suspicions grew, so too did the weight of her doubts, threatening to upend the fragile equilibrium they had struggled so hard to establish. Byeza was also the one who blew the whistle on Yalin’s scam, forcing him to leave the city his husband cherished. In reality, Byeza was worried about how greed for money, power, and recognition was slowly consuming her husband and feared that Yalin’s obsession with these things would ultimately destroy their relationship. Unfortunately, Yalin didn’t take kindly to her actions and ended up attacking her once he found out what she had done. Yalin despised that his wife had put him behind bars, knowing that there was a chance he might never see the outside world again.
The majority of the people in Assos despised even the sight of Yalin, knowing that he had swindled them and thousands of other innocent, hardworking people of their hard-earned money. The opening scene of the movie portrays this vividly, as Yalin is shunned by a shopkeeper who refuses to even look at him. The memory of Yalin’s deceit is still fresh in their minds; the people of Assos couldn’t bring themselves to forgive him. Even Cavet, who had once been a gracious host, now hurled insults at Yalin in his shop, calling him a thief and attacking him. Yalin couldn’t catch a break without someone coming after him. Whether it was an elderly man by the pier or a complete stranger pulling a gun on him in the restroom, trouble seemed to follow him like a shadow. Even Sergeant Selami showed no interest in protecting Yalin. On the contrary, he outright threatened him, stating that he wouldn’t be surprised if one of the locals ended up killing him. It was as if Yalin was a pest to be exterminated rather than a human being in need of protection.
The movie is well-made, coupled with a well-written storyline. The cast doesn’t fall short in their performances, and the actor, Kivanc Tatlitug, does a fantastic job portraying the main character Yalin, capturing both his aggressive and unstable personality in addition to his desperate nature and fragility. Kerem Arslanoglu and Funda Eryigit undoubtedly deliver remarkable performances in their respective roles. Kerem Arslanoglu walks in the shoes of impulsive and hot-headed Cavet with an intensity that is a sight for sore eyes. Eryigit, on the other hand, gives a nuanced and powerful performance like Byeza, bringing her character’s conflicting emotions and struggles to life with raw realism. She delivers a performance that is both vulnerable and fierce, making her character one of the most compelling in the movie.