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I May Destroy You
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Wild Wild Middle East....
Une chronique de la condition kurde post joug irakien a la limite du western. Une belle tension dans les affrontements qui fait oublier les petites maladresses de traitement sur certaines situations plus nuancees.
Although the trailer to My Sweet Pepper Land didn't really specify all that much about the film, it had enough to interest me into seeing it.
My Sweet Pepper Land ended up evoking mixed feelings for me.
There are a lot of characters in My Sweet Pepper Land but only few that are really central to the plot, and I found myself confused in attempting to keep up an understanding of the relevance that they all maintained as well as what their motives all were. It was troubling for me to be constantly understanding what was going on, and so I found that the story was a little convoluted to me. This is troubling because the story didn't have too much going on, but the fact that it packed it with so many subplots rendered it a rather scattered film. And this is also a problem because since My Sweet Pepper Land is a western, it also maintains a very slow pace. So a slow and scattered film isn't what I would call ideal entertainment, and I found that it was hard to keep up with as well as slow moving even though it only ran for a period of 95 minutes.
My Sweet Pepper Land is good in the way that it examines Kurdistan as still existing as a culture which faces the trouble of the old west and the way that it is still grim, dark and violent, but in terms of entertainment value it only mildly is able to capture the big picture and attempts to focus on the small scale theme of the characters. And yet it attempts to capture both, which means that it doesn't really capture either of them in the best way. My Sweet Pepper Land is better at capturing the larger scale of events than it is at going into depth with its characters, but it still has troubles in attempting to walk the line between them which had me with a constant feeling of uncertainty. I was uncertain about a lot of things while watching My Sweet Pepper Land, and it had many interesting moments and many dull ones. Overall, My Sweet Pepper Land is simply a half decent film and it is far from perfect, but it is admirable for its ambitions among many other reasons.
The thing that makes My Sweet Pepper Land so interesting is the fact that it is a Western. It is interesting to see the way that filmmakers tackle the Western genre these days, and for Iraqi-Kurdish film director Huner Saleem to be taking on the genre with such ambition is simply refreshing. Western films aren't that popular these days, and My Sweet Pepper Land isn't the most ideal example of the genre, but for what it's worth Huner Saleem is able to get the film correct both visually and in terms of themes, for better or for worse.
My Sweet Pepper Land captures the visual spectacle of a good western film in the innovative contemporary setting of Kurdistan, and it maintains a lot of scenery which is grey and gritty as well as thoroughly convincing in reinforcing the feel of the film. It feels modern, and against the backdrop of a genre which tends to take place decades before this age, it becomes interesting. Everything in My Sweet Pepper Land has a lot of visual realism, and it is captured with terrific quality cinematography which captures the large scale of the film as well as revealing just how many characters are effected by the events of the story that My Sweet Pepper Land boasts.
And in terms of being a western, My Sweet Pepper Land is a great film because it uses the cowboy hero archetype as a medium for its story about taking a stand against corruption and crime in Middle Eastern society which makes it a fairly inspirational tale to the right viewer. My Sweet Pepper Land has an interesting story, and even though it is burdened by an excess of subplots and a few too many characters, it manages to be fairly entertaining in many areas.
My Sweet Pepper Land is also a very well scripted film which is full of intelligent dialogue that captures the language of its cultural setting very realistically and has some good moments of humour to it. And most importantly, it supplies a lot of material for the cast to work with which ensures that the best of them is brought out.
Korkmaz Arslan is terrific as the lead in My Sweet Pepper Land. As the story goes on, we gradually witness more elements which make him a cowboy due to the fact that he wears more of the archetype's costume and becomes more stoic and fearless. He develops really well over the course of the story and gives it the kind of heroic touch that it needs to succeed as western. A lot of the time the importance in Krokmaz Arslan's performance comes from what he is not saying and simply how he looks during moments of drama. Korkmaz Arslan gives a fierce lead performance as Baran in My Sweet Pepper Land and makes it interesting most of the time when he is on screen.
Golshifteh Farahani also gives a great lead performance. As the beautiful woman that she is, it is easy to see just how she becomes the source of all of Baran's affections, and she combines it with a really likable persona for her character. It is easy to sympathise for Govend because of Golshifteh Farahani's honest lead performance, and it is a very admirable effort on behalf of her.
So although My Sweet Pepper Land has the ambitions of an intelligent contemporary western as well as the visual appeal of one which is both innovative as a foreign film and as a modern western tale, it is unfortunately overwhelming due to a few too many characters while also underwhelming due to its slow pace, so it is half decent at best.
The story is nothing new, but to watch a movie made in a different country rather than USA is a fresh breeze on cinema!
PS. the lead actress, Golshifteh Farahani, is stunningly beautiful!