Kenan is a taciturn 35-year-old toll booth attendant shuffling between the monotony of his traffic-besieged box and caring for his ailing but domineering father at home. Desperate to resist his father’s attempt to marry him off to a neighbor, and equally determined to prove his worth by fixing his father’s old car, Kenan edges ever closer to a nervous breakdown. Making wonderful use of an expert cast (led by the excellent Ercan), a richly saturated color palette, and keen art direction, writer-director Karaçelik has crafted a wry, heartbreaking ode to lost dreams in a sleep-walking world. —MoMA – The Museum of Modern Art
Tolga Karaçelik (1981, Istanbul) studied film in New York City after receiving his law degree in Turkey. In addition to writing and directing five short films that have been shown at various festivals domestically and internationally, he wrote and directed music videos and served as director of photography on a documentary feature. His award-winning debut Toll Booth has screened at numerous prestigious international film festivals. Toll Booth is the first Turkish film ever to have a one-week theatrical run at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. As the opening film of Global Film Initiative’s Global Lens 2012 Series, Toll Booth was shown at more than 35 cities across the US and Canada in 2012. His 2nd feature film project won the Binger Filmlab Award at the 31st Istanbul Film Festival – Meetings on the Bridge Project Development Workshop.
Nice performance from Ercan (who really reminds me of DeNiro), but the story, character dynamics, and even the film's approach to dreaminess all felt pretty stock to me. The automaton in a soul-crushing job finally losing his grip, the overbearing father, the quasi-surrealism, these are all things you've seen before in a dozen American indies and festival films.
A very buttoned down man (nicknamed "robot" by one of his co-workers) begins to, not unbutton, but unravel as his desperate need for approval and acceptance lead him into a life half real and half fantasy with heartbreaking results. Beautiful music, as well.
I loved everything about this film - the pace, the editing, the actors, the music, the cinematography. The balance between comedy and tragedy was quite adept. For a first feature film, this is huge success. The Q&A with the film maker himself made me put 5 stars, 4 otherwise. A great experience that was complemented by Joy Division on the way home...