Bal (Honey) (NC)

Starring: Bora Altas, Erdal Besikcioglu, Tulin Ozen

Semih Kaplanoglu's film is a quiet miracle. Honey completes a trilogy (the first two parts, Milk and Egg, were not released here) but stands alone as a beautiful and haunting study in familial love.

Six-year-old Yusuf (Bora Altas) lives with his parents in the remote hills of northeast Turkey. Though isolated from his schoolmates because of his stammer, he can talk fluently to the father (Erdal Besikcioglu) he adores and follows about like a puppy. When the father goes off to the mountains to hang his beehives – a perilous business – and doesn't return, Yusuf is thrown back on his own devices and becomes almost mute before his long-suffering mother. Kaplanoglu and his cinematographer Baris Ozbicer use light like Dutch genre painters, and the domestic interiors have the chiaroscuro loveliness of the Spanish artist Juan Cotan. One scene, in which Yusuf plays with the moon's silver reflection in a pail of water, is destined to be a classic. Bora Altas, as the boy, has a face of such sweet solemnity it could move a stone, or a beehive, come to that. Watch the scene where he atones for his treachery to a schoolfriend without your eyes filling up. Honey pays homage to the grace and mystery of nature, but it will linger as one of the great modern films about childhood. The Berlin Film Festival judges thought so, too – it won this year's Golden Bear.

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