Migrant and Diasporic Cinema in Contemporary Europe

Migrant and Diasporic Cinema in Contemporary Europe


Thomas Arslan (1999)


Genre: Drama

Can (Tamer Yigit) and his girlfriend, Jale (Idil Üner), live with their young daughter, Meral, in Berlin-Schöneberg.  Can is a small-time dealer and errand-boy for drug boss Hakan (Hussi Kutlucan, director of Me Boss, You Sneakers (Ich Chef, Du Turnschuh, 1998, amongst other films), who has to keep his customers supplied within his narrowly staked out territory. Jale, who works in the ware-house of a department store, has been pressing Can to give up dealing and jeopardising his and his family's existence. Can, also fed up with his situation, is however reluctant to quit work for Hakan who had promised him to make him manager of a small bar soon, a promise that he is obviously not going to keep. Erdal (Birol Ünel, who plays Cahit in Fatih Akin's Head-On (Gegen die Wand, 2004) a former friend of Can and now a policemen tries to perusade Can to collaborate with the police and give up dealing. Jale is fed up with waiting for Can to change his life and leaves him, together with their three-year-old daughter Meral. Only when Hakan gets shot does Can seize the opportunity to change his life. He takes up the offer of an old Turkish friend, who is studying law at university, to work in a kitchen of his uncle's restaurant. Yet Can finds this kind of work unsatisfying and beneath him. Moreover, Jale and Meral do not come back to him, as he had hoped, at least not immediately. Can quits the kitchen job and decides to sell the remainder of the drugs he still has and is caught by the police. He is given a four-year prison sentence and will, in all likelihood, be sent back to Turkey since he still has a Turkish passport. Jale visits him in prison but when Can suggests that she and Meral may join him in Turkey, she refuses to wait for him, having waited long enough for him to change his ways. The films ends with some contemplative shots of the now empty spaces where Cam used to hang out, live, and work. 

Despite the criminal milieu of the film it is entirely different in terms of mood and focus from, for example, Short Sharp Shock (Kurz und schmerzlos) with which it has been compared, placing far greater emphasis on the inner conflict and suffering of the drug-dealing protagonist. 

Posted by Daniela Berghahn on 19 Apr 2006 •





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