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Grain (2017) Movie Poster
Turkey / Germany / France / Sweden / Qatar  •    •  123m  •    •  Directed by: Semih Kaplanoglu.  •  Starring: Jean-Marc Barr, Ermin Bravo, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Cristina Flutur, Lubna Azabal, Mila Böhning, Hal Yamanouchi, Jarreth J. Merz, Nike Maria Vassil, Rainer Steffen, Hoji Fortuna, Garrett Thierry, Brett Storm..
       This film was inspired by a chapter from the Quran. It is a post-apocalyptic story set in a world where those that survive, are divided between the remnants of cities and agricultural zones. Both of these factions are ruled by corporations and populated by elites. In the areas called Dead Lands, genetically incompatible immigrants suffer from drought and epidemics.


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Image from: Grain (2017)
Image from: Grain (2017)
Image from: Grain (2017)
Image from: Grain (2017)
Image from: Grain (2017)
Image from: Grain (2017)
To some extent, GRAIN is a messy film of two halves. The first takes place in a futuristic factory where everything is manufactured, even the air. The Professor (Jean-Marc Barr) discovers that the person who can enlighten him the most (Ermin Bravo) has gone AWOL into the wilderness, and cannot be contacted. The Professor goes after him, with the help of youngster Andrei (Grigory Dobrygin), and guide Alice Cristina Fluter). This covers roughly the first hour of the film, making trenchant points about the ways in which humanity has conspired to ruin the soil and the atmosphere, to such an extent that most of its is now synthetic.

The second half of the time, set in the wilderness, has the Professor encountering his missing colleague, but discovering a more important lesson about the relationship between humanity and the soil. The colleague takes him on a tour of the wilderness, and into his private lair, where some soil unaffected by the prevailing acid rain is preserved. The colleague resolves to take it out and use it for growing new natural things. Meanwhile the Professor discovers things about himself through dreams such as witnessing a burning bush, and being taken to a small area of land where the soil yields fresh produce. The movie ends with a pretty explicit exhortation to everyone - including the professor - to avoid complacency and contribute towards restoring the relationship between humanity and the soil by digging deep and discovering new soil and new plants, especially the wheat plant, which contains within its seeds the entire relationship between the soil and humanity.

There are distinct echoes of Kaplanoğlu's earlier meditations on similar subjects in the familiar trilogy (MILK, HONEY, EGG) but here the message is more insistently expressed through dialogue between the Professor and his colleague, plus a final image of the Professor discovering wheat seeds in a fertile piece of land in the wilderness.

The film's style is characteristic Kaplanoğlu, a slowly burning narrative with long silent patches, where all we can hear are the birds or the rustle of the characters moving around. We are invited to focus on the land - or lack of it in the first half - and how humanity has destroyed it with buildings now in a state of disrepair. This strategy makes the ending all the more powerful, as the Professor moves out of his hidey-hole on to the land, draws a circular shape (containing the fertile area) and digs out some wheat seeds.

As usual, some filmgoers might be bored with the slow style and occasional clunky lines, but there's no doubting Kaplanoğlu's sense of ideological purpose, which comes fully to the fore as the narrative develops. Definitely a film to watch again for its subtleties, although perhaps viewers have to know something about the Qu'ran to appreciate it fully.

Review by l_rawjalaurence from the Internet Movie Database.


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