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Saw two late night movies this week. Head on is German; 5X2 is French. Both are love stories told in their own special ways. I don’t intend to summarize both of them here. That would be an insult to both films.
Rather, I would say the punctum for me: English.
Foreign films are all dubbed with subtitles. We read them most of the time. In Head On, which is shot in Hamburg and Istanbul depicting tensions between two cultures inevitably switch one language (German) to another (Turkish) from time to time. Their original target German audience will sense the subtlety of language v.s. culture right away. But somehow we, English or other language speakers, read the movie through one translations have to spend more energy (or another language?) to catch the fun part of it.
The most awkward/profound acting in the film is when Cahit went to Istanbul trying to search for his long lost wife Sibel. He couldn’t speak fluent Turkish though he’s born in Merkin, part of Turkey but raised up in Northern Germany, and Sibel’s sister couldn’t speak German. They started from simple, routin daily greetings to an English conversation. Cahit expresses his love and resolution that he has to see Sibel. I could almost feel the tempo of the film seem to stop at that moment when the English starts. We followed him a word after word, though in a clumsy way, to know how difficult it is for him to say such a thing to this successful and beautiful woman who decides to block in his way to the already married and supposed to be happy Siebel.
In 5×2, Marion went for a walk at the pond by the hotel where their wedding just finished. Her groom was so drunk that couldn’t take off his own clothes. The night’s still young; she decided to go for a walk. There she met an American man on the business trip. They started from a cigaret then to a violent sex. They spoke no more than five sentences together, in English.
This American English speaking man is of course a bastard, stealing a bride with violence. Why he’s not from Italy, Norway, or Japan? We may not need to ask Ozon the reason for it anymore, but it’s clear that the differences in language alienate that pond, that night away with other scenes in the film. The English speaking Marion is not her in other part of her life/movie. So she ran back the next morning to the groom still asleep, happily kissing and hugging him, saying, I love you, I love you.
She’s happy to be herself again.
I wonder what it would be like to see these two in Taiwan. To observe the audience is always fun.