“Ashes,” or “Kül” (in Turkish), is an erotic thriller. Directed by Erdem Tepegoz and written by Edri Isik, this Netflix production tries to blend steamy sexual fantasies with cunning climactic twists. But it does not necessarily succeed. Thus making the film limp along, with sporadic glimpses of lust, to the bundle of convoluting twists at the climax.
Ashes (2024) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
Gokce (Funda Eryigit) and Kenan (Mehmet Gunsur) are happily married couples. Or so it seems. They live in their minimalist and reeking-of-luxury house with their only son, hosting parties, having delicious food in perfectly shaped dishes, and occasional marital sex — seemingly, everything a couple with a pre-teen boy would need. However, all of these activities seem to fail to elicit satisfaction in Gokce. Kenan owns a publishing house, and he is quite busy at that. Gokce also immerses herself in her work as the owner of a boutique.
Things change for Gokce when she reads a manuscript sent to Kenan’s publishing house. This manuscript is titled ‘Ashes’ (‘Kul’ in Turkish). The story in the manuscript is centered around a married woman who is ‘looking for more’ in life, like Gokce. It speaks about a mysterious man named ‘M,’ whom the heroine meets in a bakery. As if driven by some unknown force, Gokce finds the bakery. This place is in the old part of the city. A radical contrast from her modern, minimalist, and frankly corporate surroundings.
Predictably Gokce meets a mysteriously brooding man whose name starts with M, Metin (Alperen Duymaz). Again, as if pushed by an unseen hand, Gokce barges into the man’s life. Metin’s rugged physique, no doubt coming from physical labor as a carpenter, seems to sway Gokce. Under the guise of employing Metin to make a mirror, Gokce ensures her acquaintanceship with Metin continues. The manuscript’s words and Gokce’s innate desire further cement the affair. The manuscript mentions a ‘tower’ as if it is a magical thing where ‘M’ wowed the author. Metin shows Gokce the place and gives her a memorable night.
All the while, Gokce’s husband, Kenan, remains aloof. But as Gokce fails to play her supposed wife/mother role, Kenan cannot remain aloof. While gallivanting through the beautifully old Turkish cityscapes with Metin, Gokce ignores calls from her son’s school. The day she visits the tower and loses herself there, she fails to come to a pre-arranged program as her husband’s date. As her relationship with her husband deteriorates and Metin starts to engulf her life, Gokce reaches the end of the manuscript’s story. The author claims that ‘M’ murdered her.
Ashes (2024) Movie Review:
With “Ashes,” it appears that director Tepegoz and writer Isik sincerely wanted to make a clever, psychosexual thriller, something along the lines of the magnificent “Decision to Leave” by Park Chan-wook. The motif is similar to many stories of such ilk. Not-so-subtle hints of a spouse neglected by their other halves. In this case, the husband lets down the wife – emotionally and sexually. A mid-life crisis makes the woman want more, pushing her toward the mysterious embrace of a stranger.
One of the very first troubles of “Ashes” is that it could not find the balance between love and bodily desire. The lead couple, driven by the forbidden love taboo, are shown to be as giddily in love as the leads of any Hallmark movie. And “Ashes” tries to paint this cliched escapade through beautiful landscapes (good on cinematographer Hayk Kirakosyan). As if that was not enough, director Tepegoz tries to establish the romance through a constant barrage of repetitive music. It’s a sign of lacking conviction in the images.
Thus it is not unsurprising that the romance between Metin and Gokce, played by Alperen Duymaz and Funda Eryigit, comes across as inorganic and trite, especially if you compare that with the sexual chemistry they showed in their steamier scenes. By the time the film moves towards its “Thriller” zone, it is running on fumes. And the twists do not land as cleverly as “Ashes” hoped. Or they land a little too cleverly for the drag that preceded them. Duymaz and Eryigit have a natural chemistry during the erotic scenes, but not so much otherwise. Mehmet Gunsur is fine as the ‘other’ factor.
Ashes (2024) Movie Ending Explained:
Who Is the Author of The Manuscript?
The manuscript’s end proves to be the pinprick for the balloon of happiness inside Gokce. Before this, she finds that he is married. She does not have much ground to accuse him, as she also is committing adultery. But a confrontation ensues, which ends with passionate sex. Now, the manuscript’s end throws her off.
Meanwhile, Kenan has also started to doubt her. He realizes the hold the ‘Kul’ manuscript has on his wife. After finishing the manuscript Kenan returns the book. It is through Kenan’s investigation we find who is the author of the manuscript. Kenan tracks the courier company that delivered the manuscript to his office address. Through that, he finds an address. He reaches there to find a woman answering him. The woman tells him that she has not sent any manuscript to him. However, she also informs that her sister stayed with her some time ago. Her name was Duygu Akkaya, and she died under mysterious circumstances.
What Happens to Kenan? Did Metin Kill Duygu Akkaya?
Kenan figures that it was Duygu who wrote the book. Kenan also tracks Metin down and asks him to come to his house. He uses his wife’s play and employs Metin to create a bookcase and deliver it to him. Kenan does not let Gokce know about this scheme. This is exactly what happens in the climax. Duygu suspected Metin to have another affair with her sister, the very same sister Kenan met. So Duygu arranges a dinner to confront both.
Both Gokce and Metin are understandably shocked to come under the same roof with separate invitations from Kenan. The tense dinner is quickly followed by the revelation of Kenan’s true intentions. He reads from the manuscript ‘Kul’ and reveals everything. He reveals to Gokce about finding the author, and her sister, both of whom were in a relationship with Metin. Furthermore, he reveals to Metin how Gokce learned about Metin from Duygu’s manuscript.
Chaos ensues. Metin denies murdering Duygu but claims she was suicidal. But a fight between the two men turns violent. Metin and Kenan fall into the pool fighting while Gokce looks at them, seemingly helplessly. Probably not knowing whom to believe, or whose side to take. Eventually, we see Metin getting his hands on a sharp object and stabbing Kenan. Just like what Metin did to Duygu if the manuscript is to be believed. Menin did seem earnest when he claimed he had not killed Duygu. But the way Gokce’s life dittoed the entire manuscript, it seems Metin did kill Duygu, seeing he kills Kenan.
What Happens to Gokce and Metin? Is the Story real?
“Ashes” underlines the difference between fiction and reality from the very first scene. It tries to provide multiple shrouds on top of an already opaque figure. The ending opens up a plethora of possibilities, and we can theorize them. One of the wildest theories could be that a writer, Taner Alpar, who was chided by Kenan in the first scene, concocted the entire thing. After Kenan’s death, we see this writer selling the novel by the name “Ashes.” Kenan told Alpar to branch out to new territories to find new ideas. Maybe Alpar read about Duygu’s case and sent the manuscript to Kenan. But, mindboggling as it is, the flaws are aplenty with this theory.
The likelier scenario is that Metin killed Kenan. Now Gokce is devasted for life. She could not go back to loving Metin, a known murderer. We are not sure that Gokce ever loved Metin to be honest. A lot of her feelings are due to her projection from the trigger that was the manuscript. She wanted herself to be the heroine of the story; so she wanted her to fall in love with Metin. After the tragedy, Alpar’s wife, who knew the entire story of the manuscript from Gokce, probably gave her husband the gist of it. Using that, Alpar wrote “Ashes.”
As for Gokce, it does seem whatever happened, happened for real, at least for her. As Alpar alluded to the story of Anna Karenina, where Anna kills herself by jumping in front of the train, we see Gokce standing on a railway platform with her son. The implication is clear. Gokce would kill herself. But, if you are a believer in happier endings, then it is possible that Gokce just left the city with her son, trying to cope.