As it goes with history, the winner’s side of things is the one most told. The film Son Mektup (which translates to Last Letter) flips this idea around by telling the story of the Turkish army during the attacks on Gallipoli during World War 1. This idea alone is an achievement as audiences (particularly Australian ones) are usually only shown a limited view of this historical battle. Turkish director Özhan Eren attempts to balance out the world’s history lessons by showing that there are always two sides of a coin.
The film follows heroic pilot Salih (played by Ali Eren), who lost his wife due to complications of giving birth to their daughter. Though it seems like he doesn’t have much in this world, the character of Salih is grateful to still have a child in his life. Ali Eren plays this lead role as a hurt but determined soldier who loves his daughter and his country. His patriotism is put on display when he constantly goes on risky missions in order to keep the British and French from landing on Turkish soil.
Just like in real life, the bravery wasn’t just coming from the men that fought in the war. Nesrin Cavadzade plays the courageous nurse Nihal, who also puts her life in danger in order to save others. When a British warplane attacks a group of Turkish troops and civilians, Nihal manages to save a young boy in the process. Adopting him as her own, she begins to form a pseudo family with the rescued boy as her son and Salih as her new love interest.
Looking beyond the subtitles and exotic accents the film’s dialogue could be used for a daytime soap. Most lines are cheesy but when spoken by the Turkish tongue you can’t help but enjoy what’s being said.
When longing, drawn out looks aren’t being exchanged between the two main characters we’re seeing some daring battles taking place in the sky. The CGI used in this film really leaves something to be desired as the planes sometimes look like toys or the scenery seems like it’s been lifted from an early 2000s video game.
Technical tantrums aside the movie does show some interesting aspects about how wars were fought over a hundred years ago. We see amazingly unbelievable stunts with pilots of the early warplanes shooting handguns at each other while flying.
Son Mektup isn’t too guilty of what most war movies are accused of and that’s being overly patriotic. Director and screenwriter Özhan Eren walks a thin line between the ridiculous and educational. Though a few parts of the movie are a little tacky it doesn’t go too overboard like some American war films have been known to do. History buffs and curious moviegoers should see this film as it is a limited release. Just maybe take the love story and heroics with a grain of salt.
Rating: 3 out 5