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[I am not him] The almost endless story

[I am not him] The almost endless story

I am not him is a movie by Tayfun Pirselimoglu freely inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Shown for the first time during the Rome festival in 2013, this astonishing up-to-date of the Hitchcock’s myth disconcerts.

 In the kitchen of a little restaurant in Turkey, potatoes are pealed in a close-tongued atmosphere. Blue, green prevail, noise of crockery in the background. I am not him follows the everyday life of a fifty-year old man. Nihat, a middle aged kitchen-assistant, has a social life as predictable as his professional life. However, his life is going to take a different path when he falls in love with his mysterious female colleague, who starts looking at him sideways. He looks so much like her… Little by little, Nihat is going to take on the imprisoned husband’s identity of the young woman and will create a new personality for himself, up to the point of impersonating him, quasi-unintentionally. This initial situation introduces the disturbing nature of the hero lacking points of reference. It takes the whole of the first 30 minutes for the situation to settle, and the tempo is disturbing. 30-second fixed shots abound but their meaning is difficult to understand.

After the first hour, the rhythm of the film begins to pick up. Slowness might have disturbed the viewer, however the mastering of the rhythm makes complete sense.

Progressive shifting of identity

The portrait of a solitary man, I am not him is a minimalist and impassive picture. The circular story shifts regularly and transforms indifference into desire, the image of oneself into the image of someone else. The feature film is at the same time surprising and disturbing. The character of Nihat is the knot of the plot. We follow his progression but without understanding it. Over time, the transformation operates, first physically. The hero gradually mimics the husband, even to the point even of getting the same character traits of the violent and cold man.

 A hero with a disturbed personality

 The mise-en-scène takes advantage of the management of spaces. The apartment, empty and soulless opposes panoramic shots on the sea, calm and largely open. With the camera set only on his hero, the director transforms his actor’s performance into a one-man show. If Ercan Kesal does not even come close to his model, James Stewart, he accurately depicts a character going through a complete identity crisis.

The feature film divides the audience because of its construction. I am not him will not leave anybody indifferent, this is for sure. With a mise-en-scène perfectly calibrated and a hero as charismatic as troubling, Tayfun Pirselimoglu establishes an interesting progression on the solitude of a man. If the influences of Hitchcock are noticeable, the director never succeeds to elevate the rhythm of his plot. A surprising film indeed, but flawed as it is exceedingly long.


François Boulard

Gianni Castillo – Traduction