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The List of Those Who Love Me (Beni Sevenler Listesi)

As his business deteriorates, a high-end drug dealer is forced to seek new suppliers and grapple with a string of louche characters - Turkish tribute to Scorsese and the Nouvelle Vague premieres at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

QUICK SNAP: LIVE FROM TALLINN

Yilmaz (Halil Babur) is a popular drug dealer in the upmarket Cihangir district of Istanbul. His clients are famous filmmakers, actors and musicians. He considers them friends, and believes that there is a genuine trust and affection between them. “They wouldn’t buy off anyone else”, he boasts. Yilmaz indeed seems to blend in well as he snorts coke and smoke shash and skunk with his celebrity customers. But is their allegiance indeed as unshakeable as the young trader believes?

Supply chain issues eventually surface, forcing Yilmaz down a far less glamorous world. He has to engage with impetuous and violent men, with little interest in his glitzy lifestyle. He hands money to deceitful characters and gets conned. He travels to a coastal town on the other side of the Bosphorus in search of quality products. He desperately needs to sate his demanding clientele. His leather jacket emblazoned with the words “forever or never” suggest that he will go to any lengths in order to resume his promising career.

The physique of our hyper-masculine, handsome and elegant protagonist is constantly emphasised. Hard lights shine of his pectoral shots, while Yilmaz lies on his underwear on his bed, a poster of Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull (1980) on the wall above – a scene repeated several times in the film. His cocky attitude, blase gaze, cigarette attached to his lips while seated on a Parisian-looking cafe (Cihangir looks very French indeed), next to a beautiful woman has Jean-Paul Belmondo in Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1960) written all over it (plus a beard minus the suit).

And it isn’t just the protagonist that celebrates the gangster classics of yore. The black-and-white cinematography, shot in grainy 16mm analogue film in a very unusual 1.37 aspect radio gives the movie a real vintage feel. Jump cuts inside a moving car reminded me once again of the French Nouvelle Vague. And the topic choice is naturally aligned with the mafia classics. However The List of Those Who Love Me lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. While Yilmaz often gets smacked and battered, the script does nor deliver any punches.

Those expecting the titular love are in for a disappointment. There is virtually no romance, but instead abundant testosterone and drug-induced moments of joy and friendship. It’s only in the very last sequence of the movie that the meaning of the film title becomes clear. And it’s not the kind of love you’re looking for!

The List of Those Who Love Me has just premiered at the 25th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, as part of the Official Selection.


By Victor Fraga - 21-11-2021

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

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