Reviewer's Rating 2 out of 5  
Hejar (Büyük Adam Küçük Ask) (2003)

The original title for this tear-jerking Turkish drama translates as "Big Man, Little Love" - a reference to the bond between an old man and a young child thrown together by circumstance.

Unfortunately, it could just as easily be attached to any of the other foreign pictures ("Central Station", "Kolya", "Cinema Paradiso") that have employed the same oldster/kid combo to score at the international box office.

Writer-director Handan Ipekçi's second film bucks the trend slightly by incorporating a political angle: the child in this case is a five-year-old Kurdish girl, orphaned in a country that has outlawed her native language.

Otherwise, though, "Hejar" adheres rigidly to a mawkish formula that'll have some punters reaching for a tissue and others for a sickbag.

Rifat (Sükran Güngör), a widowed ex-judge, keeps himself to himself. He refuses to get involved, even when armed police turn up and kill his Kurdish neighbours.

But Rifat is forced out of his shell when the sole survivor of the raid takes refuge in his apartment.

Foul-mouthed, filthy and in need of delousing, Hejar (Dilan Erçetin) is the last thing this nationalistic pensioner needs.

But gradually - with help from housekeeper Sakine (Füsun Demirel) - he warms to the tot and resolves to reunite her with her family.

Banned in Turkey for its sensitive nature, "Hejar" doesn't shy away from depicting the awful poverty suffered by the country's 12 million Kurds.

But audiences will have to wade through a lot of treacly sentiment in order to appreciate Ipekçi's plea for tolerance and social redress.

In Turkish with English subtitles.

End Credits

Director: Handan Ipekçi

Writer: Handan Ipekçi

Stars: Sükran Güngör, Dilan Erçetin, Füsun Demirel, Yildiz Kenter, Ýsmail Hakki Sen, Sevinc Yildiz

Genre: Drama, World Cinema

Length: 119 minutes

Cinema: 07 February 2003

Country: Turkey

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