Jîn (2013) — Image via atlantikfilm.com

Jîn

Directed by Reha Erdem (2013)

Reha Erdem’s Jîn portrays a teenage girl’s determined efforts to escape the relentless violence of the three-decade conflict between the Turkish government and Kurdish separatist fighters. Set primarily in the unsettled, mountainous wilderness, the film features very little dialogue, forcing viewers to actively interpret images and circumstances as they attempt to situate themselves in the protagonist’s almost unthinkable circumstances.

At the beginning of the film, 17-year-old Jîn (Deniz Hasgüler) deserts from a Kurdish guerrilla group that is hiding in the mountains. Doggedly making her way through rough terrain by herself, she eventually comes across a small village where she steals some civilian clothes and other supplies. Soon afterward, she hides her rifle in a cave and hitches a ride to the nearest bus depot in the hope of making her way to İzmir, a cosmopolitan city far from the Kurdish conflict. With no money and no identification documents, however, her civilian trappings and her story about visiting her sick grandmother (a likely nod to “Little Red Riding Hood”) can only get her so far.

Jîn (2013) — Image via atlantikfilm.comWhile the episodes that take place in settled areas play an important role in moving the film’s plot forward, the majority of the action takes place in the wilderness. Jîn seems to feel at home here, at least during the long stretches in which she is free to move about in peace. The entire length of the film, however, is punctuated by sudden military attacks in which bombs and automatic gunfire rain down on the otherwise tranquil woods and mountains. On the one hand, this sets up a fairly heavy-handed symbolic contrast between the apparent harmony of nature and the extreme violence of the supposedly civilized world. But it also serves to emphasize the fact that Jîn’s fate is not really in her hands. Though she is clearly both physically strong and extremely resourceful, these qualities cannot reasonably be expected protect her indefinitely from such random and destructive acts.

Jîn is not an easygoing viewing experience. For a while, it is possible to dwell in the gorgeous scenery, but as Jîn retraces some of her steps toward the end of the film, watching her go through some of the same motions in the same locations creates a sense of frustration. Hildur Guðnadóttir’s minimalist-inspired score contributes to the feeling of fate bearing down on Jîn, and all Erdem has to offer as a potential way out of his protagonist’s dire situation is an ambiguous sort of nature mysticism, as represented by wild animals that show up at various key points to offer Jîn moral support. But for viewers who are prepared to spend two hours sharing both in Jîn’s hopes and in her disappointments, the film contains much that is worth experiencing.

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Eric Prindle

administers Bad Entertainment. He is also an attorney who leads a team of legal marketing copywriters at FindLaw. He is not Eric Prindle, the mixed martial arts fighter.