Review of Idil Tekeli’s No Reason 

Developmentally Edited by Alexandra Hidalgo
Copy Edited and Posted by Megan Elias

No Reason (2019). 10 minutes 11 seconds. Written and Directed by Idil Tekeli. Starring Idil Tekeli, Cansu Ozsahin, and Yagiz Ali Yalcin.

Fragments of life that could almost be pictures if not for the incremental movements and flow of piano introduce us to Idil Tekeli’s No Reason. An alarm is shut off by a dozed arm while small artifacts of personhood and way of life are scattered on the screen. A book, all white shelving, empty glasses and bottles of alcohol, a full mug of coffee. These items set the foundation for our story, that of isolated trauma and the sisterhood bond that is formed outside of and because of secluded lives behind screens of social media. This brilliant film uses color tones, music, the actor’s stellar performances, and the lack of voice to tell a story of abuse and friendship.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the glorification of social media. The hours that pass by scrolling and tapping through platforms and people’s “stories” on their profile. This reality holds true in Tekeli’s film and is presented in such a vulnerable exposé of hidden truths via the stories of two women, and how despite the hardships, they find solidarity with each other. These women have a deep, unspoken, soulful understanding that brings them together. The film deals with alcohol and drug addiction and how these substances suffocate their user into a cycle of abuse. We are also shown another type of abuse: domestic and partner violence. Each woman, who we soon find out are close friends, watches the other’s stories of laughing, dancing, and beautification. Yet through our own screen as the audience, we are shown the hurt that happens after the stories and posts are uploaded: we see loneliness and visceral pain. 

This film is broken into three sections, distinguishable by the three musical compositions: “Stanchen” by Schubert Lizst, “”Waiting” by Gabriele Cazzola, and “Forgotten” by Pure Composition. Each is an instrumental song that sets the mood for each section; the first is dark, solemn, melancholy. Next we have the transformation in an abusive space, making the application of makeup more a metaphor of the masks used to paint over strain. Finally, “Forgotten” is the final sequence that, well, I won’t ruin it for you.

The music in the film is phenomenal. It moves the story in an almost dancelike fashion. Each piece has a piano melody, instrumental only, and distinct in its own story..The film has no spoken words, but we do see that the only “voice” in the film is a text exchange between the two women, indicating they are indeed friends and confirming each other’s attendance at that night’s get together. Other than that, the music is the driving force behind the emotion of the film. Each song’s tune doesn’t need words to express each situation. Through the visual artistry of the film and the moving tone of the music, this soulful film is perfect the way it is. 

One of the first film techniques I noticed was the use of color throughout the story. Because of the lack of voice in the film, the colorization of the scenes elevated the facial expressions and made the monotonous dramatic. Tekeli’s over-saturation of blues and purples saddened the first two sections of the film. I was brought to tears as it seemed the women were drowning in blue and the sadness it connotes. There is a particular scene where the woman who has a substance addiction, played by Tekeli herself, dances around the room laughing, cat in arms, sun beaming through the windows and reflecting off of the mirror used to snort cocaine. It is quite a beautiful scene that is doused in blues and purples, drawing attention to the deep circles under her eyes and the paleness of her face. The colorization draws out a longing for this character, a mutual understanding of the feeling of dusty blues and indigos and violets that subdue the colors of the world around. It makes this seemingly objective happiness unbearably mournful. 

Skip ahead to the last section and there is a brightness of yellows and oranges, warm tones that signify joy of a friendly gathering, except it is fragmented by the knowledge that lives are extremely different from how they portray them on social media.. Tekeli uses this dichotomy to her advantage, making clear the truth behind the bright and happy-toned colors. Yet, at the same time, she shows her audience that they can exist in one body; the two women live experiences that are traumatic and difficult, yet contain beautiful, laughter-filled moments shared with friends. Tekeli uses color further as a metaphor to show that those who are exposed to these blues of life oftentimes come together in a communion of friendship that others don’t even notice.

This brings me to the talent of the actors. Tekeli and Cansu Ozsahin, along with the actor who plays Ozsahin’s partner, Yagiz Ali Yalcin, are phenomenal. They use facial expressions and body movements to convey their character’s feelings so well that it sent shivers through me. There is a parallel scene where Tekeli and Ozsahin both enter their bathrooms and cry to their reflections, wipe away tears, and begin applying their makeup for the evening’s festivities. This intimate moment is a testament to their character’s struggles and the intentionality of every move the actors need to make to tell a story through actions. They do not over dramatize the emotions nor do they downplay the hurt and happiness experienced throughout the film. They show the rawness of their lived experience. They are graceful in their performance of life.

No Reason is one of the most relatable films I have seen in a long time. It touches on unseen realities hidden under the guise of social media platforms. The chilling truths of abusive behavior can torment a person, and the glamour of social media can put an even more isolating feeling into an already pernicious situation. No Reason asks its audience to look at life outside of social media. It challenges us to be honest with ourselves and others. What is showcased on social media is only a fraction of the story. What happens when we evaluate ourselves and check up on our friends? There is comfort in vulnerability, especially in times like these…

You can watch the trailer for No Reason on Vimeo. To see what else Idil has done, take a look at her website. Learn more about Tiffany on her profile.