30 August 2016 | l_rawjalaurence
Gross-Out Comedy with Unexpectedly Redeeming Features
Superficially MANDIRA FILOZOFU (THE DAIRY PHILOSOPHER) is one of those comedy that makes viewers despair for the future of the mainstream Turkish film industry. Written by Birol Guven, who penned the successful television sitcom AVRUPA YAKISI (THE European SIDE) (2004-9) it focuses on a hermit (Müfit Can Sacinti) who has spent his entire existence by the sea-coast in Mugla living the simple life - cooking and growing his own food, keeping a small farm, and never seeing the need for money. Whenever anyone quizzes him about the ethics of his existence, he quotes a variety of authorities including Bertrand Russell, to support his case (hence the title DAIRY PHILOSOPHER).
The future of his existence is threatened by hotshot Istanbul property developer Cavit (Rasim Öztekin), who wants to buy the land and build hotels, spas and other tourism-dedicated amenities on it. There follows a familiar struggle between two world-views, interspersed with a rather superficial subplot involving the hermit's cousin Halilibrahim (Hakan Bulut) and his much-postponed plans to marry sweetheart Gulsah (Begüm Öner).
THE GOOD LIFE meets WHISKY GALORE! in a predictable comedy containing its fair share of offensive material, no more so than in a couple of sequences where a male character urinates on one of the female protagonists (Gulnihal Demir), and another female (Ayda Aksel) steps in a cowpat, and is subsequently put off eating tomatoes for life once she discovers that they are fertilized in dung. The characterization is perfunctory, the humor defiantly sexist, making us understand how decades of feminist activism have scarcely impinged on mainstream filmmakers' collective consciousnesses.
And yet, and yet ... Müfit Can Sacinti's film contains a kernel of truth beneath its surface banality. As in many rapidly industrializing nations, it seems that development in the Turkish Republic continues unabated, with many beauty-spots destroyed in the name of so-called "progress." The fact that the economy is in a fragile state does not deter rich capitalists from defacing the land in the search of yet more wealth and power. The hermit's world-view might be superficial, the product of a town-resident with little or no knowledge of how the countryside works; but it is worthwhile taking into account and reflecting on. We might not be able to arrest the march of progress, but at least we can try to look for personal and spiritual contentment within ourselves.