Güni Koçak, Elizabeth Tan, Nej Adamson, Fisun Burgess
Güni Koçak, Marie Drisch
A deep trauma can devastate even the strongest family. It is from this foundation that we watch Green Lanes, an indie short from co-directors Güni Koçak and Marie Drisch that centers around Yusuf (Koçak), a young man bringing his girlfriend Fiona (Elizabeth Tan) to meet the Turkish parents he hasn't seen in far too long. While the meeting starts off pleasantly enough, it's quickly apparent there exists a deep tension within the family largely rooted in unresolved trauma around the tragic death of Yusuf's brother.
This 15-minute short may tackle somewhat familiar material, but it goes much deeper thanks to Koçak's insightful, culturally aware script and an intuitive cast that brings out every nuance the film has to offer. The film's highlight is undoubtedly the performance of Nej Adamson as Yusuf's father Cem, a proud man both concerned about his son's lack of achievement yet also filled with a strong sense of familial duty and obligation. Adamson travels a remarkable journey with this character in a mere 15 minutes and it's truly remarkable to watch unfold.
This is not to say, of course, that the rest of the ensemble is a slouch. This is far from true. Koçak radiates a quiet vulnerability with wounds obviously left unhealed. There seems to be a part of him that believes he has moved on, yet it is apparent he has not. His relationship with Fiona, marvelously played by Elizabeth Tan, is his bedrock and it may very well be the bridge toward uniting this estranged family. Fisun Burgess also shines as Emine, Yusuf's mother who continues to grieve intensely and often envisions the son she has lost.
Music by Thom Thomas-Watkins is appropriately complementary to the film's quiet drama. D.P. Michael Spry's lensing captures the connectedness of this family even when it seems they are disconnecting. Green Lanes captured the Best Short Film prize (November Award) at the Beyond the Curve Film Festival and should be primed for a solid indie film festival run.
This quiet drama tackles universal themes in unique, culturally aware ways and ultimately drives home a meaningful message about family, perseverance, and learning how to survive the seemingly unsurvivable.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic