A man falls in love with the portrait of a lady but refuses to be romantically involved with the real person in this incredibly gorgeous Turkish film, though it does rely too much on repetition and fatalism to work.
Cast: Musfik Kenter, Sema Ozcan, Suleyman Tekcan, Fadil Garan
Plot: Poor but proud painter Halil gets a job in an island villa, where he encounters the photograph of a beautiful woman and falls in love with her image.
Subject Matter: Moderate – Unrequited Love
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
Metin Erksan is, of course, most famous for his Berlinale Golden Bear-winning work, Dry Summer (1963), though much less is known about the rest of his filmography. As a result of a new restoration done by MUBI, Erksan’s later film, Time to Love, can now be viewed on the streaming platform.
A house painter falls in love with the portrait of a lady, but when the real lady appears, he refuses to be romantically involved as he has no feelings for her. As weird as it might sound, Erksan, however, treats the narrative like a fatalistic visual poem, privileging both cinematography and music in telling what is a rather simple story.
Time to Love is incredibly gorgeous with some of the most striking visuals in Turkish cinema—even Nuri Bilge Ceylan would probably marvel at how good-looking the film is. There is the recurring use of rain as a visual motif, as characters stand framed against windows looking in or out moodily.
“You’re afraid of confessing your love to me.”
Traditional ethnic music is employed both diegetically (the house painter’s colleague plays a string instrument during breaks) and non-diegetically (though sometimes relying too much on the repetition of musical rhythms to work).
As the lady tries to get the house painter to love her, a morally dubious man becomes the third cog in the ‘love triangle’ as he tries to win the affection of the lady, by force if necessary.
In the rather drawn-out climax, the film’s acute sense of fatalism becomes a double-edged sword—the ending, which I’ll leave you to find out, doesn’t work for me. It feels too abrupt and prescribed. At the very least, Time to Love does ask us to think about how we might begin to love someone when feelings are murky or barely reciprocated.