Hesitation Wound (Tereddüt Çizgisi) – Review

Hesitation Wound Legal dramas are a cinema staple. As audiences, we love rousing closing speeches, heated debates, surprise witnesses and a verdict that seems to go right down to the wire. Courtrooms lend themselves perfectly to cinema, with their often symmetrical structures, detailed order of events and a binary “good versus bad” narrative set up. We imagine polished brass, gleaming wood and deep leather seats to bestow the occasion with the visual grandeur it commands.

But in Selman Nacar’s second feature-length film, Hesitation Wound, we get a small local courtroom, complete with a leaking roof and sterile surroundings. There is no glamour to be found here. The film follows defence lawyer, Canan (Tülin Özen) for a twenty-four period in her life. On the smaller end of her problems, her car is in the garage and her stomach ulcers are flaring up again. On the larger end of the scale, she has to decide whether or not to take her brain-dead mother off life support and her client is about to be imprisoned for life for a crime she is convinced he did not commit. It’s stressful and hectic as Canan is drawn in several different directions, all the while striving to maintain her immaculate outward appearance.

It’s the relatability that makes this film work. Whilst we are all perhaps not making life or death decisions on a frequent basis, we have all had a week or a month where it felt like everything was piling on top of us and there was no end in sight. Yet, we still had to show up at work, perform at a high level, maintain our personal lives and keep on top of our physical and mental health. Canan initially seems to be taking it all in her stride but as the film unravels, so does she.

Tülin Özen offers up a compelling protagonist in Canan. Her return to her hometown is marred with jealousy and sneering. Her sister, the judge and the prosecutor all make condescending reference to the fact that she got her degree in the UK and worked in Istanbul. Clearly, she was supposed to remain in the small city of Uşak her entire life instead of pursuing a career. She dresses neatly, in silk shirts and heels, her hair in delicate waves or chignons. The teal of her blouse pops against the institutional beige walls and sickly green corridors. This marks her as “other” in amongst the village mentality but makes her entirely fascinating to viewers. Özen gives a determined performance – she feels like a safe pair of hands. Her gradually more aggressive approach to her client’s defence is exhilarating to watch. She is dogged throughout the entire film as she lurches from bad scenario to worse.

Contrasting Canan’s strength is her client, Musa (Oğulcan Arman Uslu). Realising he is about to be sentenced to life with no parole for the death of his former boss, he wrenches his sleeves up to show his lawyer the many attempts on his life he has made previously. He will not fail the next time, he promises Canan, if he is found guilty. The power of Özen’s performance, here, means we are also convinced that Musa is being set up – that local politics are at play here.

And it’s not just Musa’s case that adds that layer of local ‘back scratching’ in the film. The mayor promises a new minaret for the mosque whilst the courthouse is – quite literally – falling apart. The likely killer is “studying abroad”, protected by family interests and his wealth. Even Canan quite blatantly bribes the judge (offering her mother’s organs to his injured niece) in exchange for a favourable verdict. It’s a world that feels seedy, like you constantly have to be hustling in order to survive. Writer / director Selman Nacar draws us into that world so brilliantly that it leaves you feeling more than a little grubby.

The pacing of the film becomes increasingly hectic as Canan attempts to keep her various plates spinning. The trial does not seem to be going her way; her car repair is delayed for another few Hesitation Wound days; her mother is due to be declared dead; her ulcers are causing dizziness and nosebleeds. Life is happening to her and around her, it seems. To make matters worse, an ominous black cloud threatens Uşak with one of the worst storms it has had for some time. And it’s at the peak of all this that Nacar, frustratingly, leaves us. No neatly drawn conclusions, no justice served, no happy ever after. Just the certainty that chaos will continue.

With a thrillingly sharp ending that will leave you gasping for breath, Hesitation Wound revels in its chaos. Tülin Özen’s central performance is powerful and engaging, immediately drawing you into her reality. An enjoyably exasperating watch.

Hesitation Wound (Tereddüt Çizgisi) is up for the Audience Award at the Glasgow Film Festival. Get your tickets here.


Mary Munoz
Follow Me
Latest posts by Mary Munoz (see all)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.