50m2: Netflix ~ Non-Spoiler Review

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Image shows scenes from 50m2 on Netflix. Central photo is the theatrical poster for the show.


🇹🇷 50m2 🇹🇷

50m2 is a Turkish Netflix Original show released 27 January 2021. S1 8 x 44 – 1hr 4min episodes. Available with subtitles and dubbing. 15 Cert U.K.

Premise:

“After betraying his bosses, a hitman hides out in a vacant tailor shop, where he’s mistaken for the late owner’s son, an identity he decides to embrace.”

Cast:

Engin Öztürk as Gölge/Adem

Kürsat Alniaçik as Servet

Cengiz Bozkurt as Muhtar

Aybüke Pusat as Dilara

Tolga Tekin as Mesut

Tugce Karabacak as Özlem

Tunkay Beyazit as Turan

Özgur Emre Yildirim as Civan

Yigit Kirazci as Yakup

Murat Kiliç as Imam

Gürkan Uygun as Mümtaz

Crew:

Creator: Burak Aksak

Writer: Burak Aksak

Directors: Burak Aksak & Selçuk Aydemir

Music: Mustafa Cihan Aslan, Tolga Boyuk, Ekin Eti and Emin Yasin Vural

Cinematographer: Ferhat Uzundag

Stunt Coordinator: Burak Ugur


Notes:

There is a muhtar called Muhtar in this show. Here’s a handy link explaining what a muhtar is:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhtar_(title)

At one point raki is being drunk, here’s a link explaining what the alcoholic drink raki is (I assume you all know what whisky is… )

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rakı

Inside the tailor’s shop in 50m2. Left Mesut (Tolga Tekin) right Shadow/Adem (Engin Öztürk)


Review: (Contains mild spoilers)

50m2, is the size of the tailor’s shop that Gölge (which means Shadow in Turkish) “inherits” in a suburb of Istanbul. This is a show which leaps out of the starting blocks from the very first scene. Set at night, with a perfect combination of darkness, shadows and contrasting lights we see a desperate figure running away. We then see a shadowy figure in an alleyway and this is our oh so apt introduction to Gölge himself. The pursued man gets a bullet in the leg for making Gölge run at such an hour (this becomes a running gag “newbies) when he does not know anything about incriminating photographs that are wanted by Gölge’s boss, Servet. From this first scene with the “innocent” seller of rice, everything spins out. It is made clear within 5 minutes that 50m2 is a dark comedy-drama. 

Scene from 50m2 Shadow holds gun to a man’s throat.


Parts of this show are very funny indeed, which stops it being too dark but make no mistake there is real darkness in this storyline. There are genuinely shocking moments. Much of the humour is self-deprecating, sarcastic and gentle with elements of farce and slapstick, running gags and catchphrases. Of course, some humour is cultural, such as the correct form of address and rudeness which may not work for all viewers. I thoroughly enjoyed the cultural differences.

The two old men (Muhtar and Turan) in the suburb to which Gölge flees for his life (ending up in the tailor’s shop) are hilarious with their banter and bickering. The conversations between Gölge and Muhtar are incredibly well-written and played.

A scene from 50m2: left is Muhtar (Cengis Bozkurt) right Shadow/Adem (Engin Öztürk)


The supporting characters are well-drawn and have depth. Although we should loathe some of them we truly don’t because they all have very human weaknesses and aspects that soften them. Servet (Kürsat Alniaçik) is not a one-dimensional bad guy with his guilt and change of heart well told via his therapy sessions (villains need therapy too, right?) The young baker Dilara (Aybüke Pusatalso) also with a shadowy period in her life, is a feisty female character, not a cypher. She too knows about grief. Özlem (Tugce Karabacak) the just ever so slightly corrupted lawyer in another interesting and strong female character. Other characters also show tremendous development over a bare 8 episodes. Mesut (Tolga Tekin) an out of his depth romantic at heart with poor dress sense. Yakup (Yigit Kirazci) who suffers from a combination of unrequited love, being an orphan with a dodgy past (parallels to Gözem) and never feeling fully accepted. Last but definitely not least Civan (Özgür Emre Yildirim) a man who was crippled playing football years who has at least as dramatic an arc as Gölce. 

Image shows Civan (Özgür Emre Yildirim) wearing a football shirt in a scene from 50m2


Adem/Gölge is brilliantly played by Engin Özturk (who I first encountered in The Protector and subsequently Resurrection: Ertugrul) who really shows his range in this role. From comedy to physical fights, extremes of emotion (there are tragic and revelatory events) to snarky comments and tiny details such as fiddling with anything within reach in an office, rocking on a chair or a cheeky wink. His energy and enthusiasm are infectious. This is in-depth characterisation at its best. 

Gölge, reluctantly at first, takes on the identity of Adem. Gölge/Shadow is exactly as his name suggests, a man who is desperate to find his long-gone family, to find out who he really is, to have a name that is not just one conjured up on yet another false ID. This is a man who ostensibly cares about his physical health (no gluten) but drinks alcohol to excess to cope with his demons and deep unhappiness. The choice of the name Adem is surely very deliberate, for this is the Turkish equivalent of Adam.

Shadow from 50m2


Sleeping over at Muhtar’s home (hilarious) gives him a night’s sleep without nightmares. But what is important is his realisation of what it truly means to belong to a community, a “family” and to try to do things for the common good. Gölge is a strange contradiction of the worldly-wise yet not having a clue about other things that might be expected (e.g. prayer and confession). One of the sweetest scenes, which also made me laugh out loud, is where he fakes enjoyment of a “cakeish” made by a small boy.

This show had me crying out “Oh no!” more than once, most often when yet another of Golge’s (Adem’s) plans goes awry (there are both comedy and tragedy in these). I really liked that the main character is not drawn in a simplistic way but has contradictions. That he believes that had he had a different upbringing he could have been a good man. He realises that he has been made the way he is, to do the dirty work by his creator/saviour, Servet. He is aware that Muhtar is one such man, the man who sees the best in everyone. Once Gölge realises this is his second chance it is this that he aims to be, even though he mentally detaches from some emotional connections (the small boy is the prime example). That the story pulls out parallels with his own situation is clever. The analogy of the tree is brilliant and parts of the story hit hard.

There are several clear messages in 50m2. That you must take responsibility for your own actions, burdening yourself with overwhelming guilt is a conceit and people are stronger when unified than on their own (no man is an island). You cannot outrun your past and need to accept who, and what, you are and make a conscious effort to change. Some people change because they make a conscious effort to do so, whilst others are cankers and will never change because they have no desire to. The show also touches upon other topical issues such as refugees, people smuggling and using children as drug dealers.

Scene from 50m2 with Muhtar  (Cengiz Bozkurt) and Yakup (Yigit Kirazci)


The director, Burak Aksak, clearly had a very clear vision of what his story should look like onscreen. There is a great combination of different types of camerawork, from some wonderful aerials (a funeral leaps to mind) to tracking shots with shaky-cam during fight sequences. The visual design of this show is a very strong point. You get a very real feel for the suburban area and the stark contrast with the city of Istanbul itself.

I loved the costuming in 50m2 and the make-up, especially of injury details, is first-rate. Another very effective aspect is the music score, which has a wonderful cultural connection and mix as well as being evocative etc. 

There is a lot of swearing in 50m2 and you will see violence, drug dealing, implied drug use and a lot of alcohol being drunk (which might come as a surprise to some).

50m2 is a highly recommended, immensely entertaining and captivating TV show. What a phenomenal achievement also for Burak Alsak in creating and writing this and directing the final 4 episodes. I cannot wait for a season 2 to arrive to resolve the cliffhanger and continue this story of redemption, identity and more. 

“Everyone deserves a second chance. If I deserve it, you definitely deserve it.” 

Poster for 50m2 with Engin Öztürk as Shadow.


Trailer:

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