The Embroidered Dress Review
By Mikah Wolanski (February 6th, 2018)
Written & Directed by: Doğuş Algün
Produced by: Gestus Film
Key Cast: Çiğdem Aksüt (Gulnur), İlhan Algün (Orhan), Hülya Akkuş Algün (Ipek)
Contrary to mainstream beliefs, films don’t need to be flashy to be effective. This is clearly evident in the Turkish short film The Embroidered Dress by writer/director Doğuş Algün (The Painfull Dawn, The Burden of the Night, A Happy Dinner). Algün proves with his short that a simple, somber story can have a long lasting effect on its viewers, grabbing and holding their attention - sitting with them long after it’s 20 minute run-time.
The Embroidered Dress follows Gulnur, a young mother who ventures to find employment due to her family’s financial burdens; against the wishes of her husband. She stumbles upon a small embroidery shop, where she is hired by Orhan, the shop’s owner. Soon after, a dress goes missing, causing the shop employees and Orhan to quickly place the blame on the newly hired mother. Gulnur assures them of her innocence, and is deeply hurt by the accusations brought upon her. Shortly after, the dress is found, causing Orhan immense guilt for his wrongful accusation. He begins to work desperately to correct his mistake and unburden himself of his guilt.
This film works within it’s simple premise in such an elegant way. It’s evident that there was a clear intention to keep this film bound to its characters, and to not get carried away with any unwarranted or unnecessary extravagant moments. It’s somber style perfectly reflects the overall emotional backing that the characters display throughout the piece. Their lives are an everyday struggle, with very few moments of overwhelming joy – and the film encompasses this in its entirety, particularly with its cinematography.
Shot by the talented Mert Altut, The Embroidered Dress is simply a beautiful looking film. Aside from the handheld motions (which works great within the films style), a large portion of the film involves very little camera movements. A style of stillness and minimal color envelops the screen, leaving a certain necessary visual plainness, allowing the scenes to be brought to life by its characters – making performances one of the most important aspects to having this film work. And boy, does it ever deliver. Çigdem Aksüt (Gulnur) gives a powerful performance by saying very little. There’s no question that subtle performances like this can be some of the most difficult to deliver, and Aksüt proves that she has this skill mastered without fault. The same praise should be given to İlhan Algün (Orhan) who also flawlessly delivered a performance that evoked such an emotional presence in the film. The monotony of his life could be understood by his face alone - his despair for the mistake he made evident without dialogue. An absolutely fantastic performance. The film was further supported by Hülya Akkuş Algün (Ipek) who was a huge driving force behind the dialogue in the film, and delivered her supporting role with such skill that it left a lasting impression on me, and was probably my favourite role overall .
Doğuş Algün has clearly demonstrated an exemplary skill for understanding the art of storytelling. He created a film that not only gets the viewer emotionally evolved, but also makes you want to learn more and watch longer. When a story draws you in like The Embroidered Dress does so well, you know you’ve made something wonderful. And that’s just what this film is – a wonderful display of art. This is storytelling at its finest, and I would recommend this film to anyone who truly appreciates the beautiful simplicities that it has to offer.
- Mikah Wolanski