A romance story with a spiritual twist
Turkish film Doom for Love seems to be about unrequited love that has the potential to graduate to just “love”. Firat and Lidya meet by chance. After the former’s obituary writing agency goes under, he is invited by friends, Melda and Sehrat, to take a trip. Not just to any place but to a meditative retreat on a secluded part of the island.
Its instructor is a famous personality, having garnered publicity for supposedly “talking to the dead”. Lidya is with the band that sings and chants calming melodies in Sanskrit and Turkish. Firat’s brother Irfan helps him get a job at a pharmaceutical company as a sales rep.
While at a convention, Lidya and Firat meet again. And so does Yusuf, who Firat thinks is Lidya’s partner. But this time, Firat is convinced by the duo to leave his life of stress behind and travel with them. The adventure is beautiful… while it lasts.
At this juncture, ‘Doom of Love’ slyly professes to be an awakening for people flustered with their lack of progress, trapped by the ideological and material riches of possessions. This tangent shows the divergence from the earlier sense that we will just be watching a girl and a boy fall in love and live happily ever after. Well, that is, in some respects true.
When I first started watching this, Doom For Love seems like an elaborate ad campaign for a tour package to the retreat. It has all the makings – pristine beaches, exotic drone shots, and gorgeous people enjoying life. Everything seems too perfect to be realistic.
The director of photography must be credited for bringing the island to life with such beauty and vividness though. His shots truly capture the island’s most precious jewels to give you chills. But his cinematic sense of framing seems to be a bit off. The movements, characters’ faces, and blocking of scenes feel as if they lack creativity and instinct. This is not the only aspect that troubles the film.
Let us first discuss the central conflict of ‘Doom of Love’, something that definitely has potential. In simple terms, there is a spiritual calling for Firat to let himself go. The person he was, the perspective he accrued over all these years about life; everything has to go out the window.
Firat’s circumstances capture the universal modern urgency to achieve something by working hard and having a salary/income and gaining possessions. It sits in contrast to the carefree spirit of Yusuf and Lidya who do what they want and live from moment to moment. There is a tremendous openness to feel and not just give the appearance of it.
The lady who organizes the retreat mentions that our existence is just earth and light. When you’re alive, you are on earth. And when you die, you become light. Other observations include the immense pain and pessimism that loss of life brings. It is what makes us mortal in the most real sense.
Yusuf couldn’t let go of his former partner. His journey with Lidya was one he was forced into choosing because of the comfort and familiarity she provided. His arc just goes to show how easy it is for us to fall back to that zone when we face distress. Lidya’s character is firmly positioned in the realm of philosophy that is so easily disregarded for being impractical and childish.
The idea of breaking free and having no goals in life would be folly to most. But the other side’s argument has weight. What happens when you reach that goal? Do you just go and make another? And what happens after that? These ideas are essentially the best parts of ‘Doom of Love’. Now, the not-so-good parts.
In the 100 or so minutes this movie runs for, we see Lidya singing and a crowd around her dancing for more than half the time. Perhaps “too much” of the singing seems a bit pointless to folks like us, who cannot fathom other people out and about having fun!
This prevents director Hilal Saral from ever getting in a serious-minded setup or structure for his narration. On second thought, calling it “narration” would be unfair because this does not resemble it in the least bit. Disjointed and somewhat disillusioned, ‘Doom of Love’ just wanders about, deliriously, hoping to find takers for its formless style.
Lidya calls their journey one of “finding themselves”. But there is hardly any self-introspection to give that impression. Saral does not do enough to catch our fancy, or rather hold it and take care of it. Or Firhat’s.
Instead, just when the moment comes when life starts to make sense for Firhat, all is taken back, ruthlessly. In one fell swoop, he’s condemned back to where he came from. “Love is not something you own, or you can capture. You have to feel it, live it while it lasts. There’s nothing more you can do,” Lidya says at one point. That moment just never comes for ‘Doom of Love’.
The ending, producers might have hoped, would have added depth to the story and given it that critical mind. But unfortunately, we see right through that. ‘Doom of Love’ leaves you flustered in the end; hoping, waiting for something special that never quite arrives.
Verdict - 6/10