Oh Belinda (2023) ‘Netflix’ Movie Review: If you are going into Oh Belinda, the new Turkish film streaming on Netflix, expecting multiverse madness, evaluate. The film, starring Neslihan Atagul, is an introspective drama that services its protagonist Dilara Basaran’s journey of self-discovery. The main conceit here is the clever plotting that elevates the experience of absorbing Dilara’s intense journey. Oh Belinda uses the “stuck in time” trope for its powerful yet subtle messaging. The film’s rich subtext has some digging to do.

The premise is that Dilara, who is a successful theatre actor, has to shoot a TV commercial. It is for a shampoo brand, Belinda. She does not find the project worthwhile and only does it because of financial reasons. While on set, she is urged by the director to put in more effort to become Handan Gulveren, the character in the commercial. As she pushes herself, Dilara finds herself transported into the world of the commercial.

She becomes Handan literally while everything around her remains the same. Dilara must “play the part” to find a way out of this mess or risk being trapped there forever. While that conflict does not play out in a grand fashion, it does add some urgency to the storytelling. Due to the nature of its messaging and positioning of Dilara in an alternate reality, the exactness of how and why she gets transported becomes secondary.

In fact, even unlike About Time, where the makers tell you of the magical cupboard, Oh Belinda refrains from laying out any explanation for why Dilara ends up in the TV commercial. Most of the details that one expects to be enunciated in the storytelling are missing from Oh Belinda. The intention of the makers is not to confront you with this ambiguity and give you food for thought. Instead, it is the electric final act in the climax that puts things in perspective for you. Oh Belinda does not have a lengthy runtime, so the modern viewer, whose attention span is already compromised by Shorts and Reels, will perhaps not mind waiting for the moment to come.

But it is not the only thing the movie offers. The comedic undertone in the premise is fully realized, at least in the first half. One can certainly appreciate how well Deniz Yorulmazer stages the initial bewilderment that Dilara goes through. It was vital for us to feel her anger-laced confused mental state of being in her shoes. The camerawork, blocking of the scenes, and the confluence of sound and sight are done tastefully. Credit must also go to Atagul and veteran Necip Memili, who plays Necati, for channeling the energy and intentions of the director.

The second and third acts veer towards an existential and serious-minded tone. Although the transition is less than perfect, in the context of the story, it is the right creative choice. One would have liked it if Dilara’s realization could have been more fleshed out in the narrative. In its current shape, it feels a little hollow and weak. It is not instantly believable for the viewer, and one has to cajole his bias in the belief of the potential of the film to make it happen.

Oh Belinda plays its cards a little too close to the chest when it could have been braver. While the conception is unabashedly out there and original, the execution is somewhat conservative to a fault at times. The mismatch between the two creates some narrative vacuum that is not able to suck in the viewer truly. Another challenge for Yorulmazer was to unwind Oh Belinda to some extent, as it is too self-absorbed on paper. The nature of the ideas and conflicts purported by the writers is a construct of the cinematic world rather than something universal.

Even though that specificity is not defeating, Yorulmazer’s job becomes that much more difficult. He does not quite overcome the inherent pitfalls in the final product, which is again a downer. However, Oh Belinda is an impressive film due to its fresh treatment of familiar themes and the towering central performance from star Neslihan Atagul.

Related Read: Oh Belinda (2023) ‘Netflix’ Movie Ending, Explained: Why did Dilara dance in the rain?

Oh Belinda Movie (2023) Links – IMDbRotten Tomatoes
Oh Belinda Movie (2023) Cast – Neslihan Atagül, Serkan Çayoglu, Necip Memili
Where to watch Oh Belinda

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