Friday, 23 May 2014

At the LTFF: "The Impeccables"

The Impeccables is a bracingly impressionistic study of two thirtysomething sisters on holiday in the Aegean: the vivacious, flirty Yasemin (Esra Bezen Bilgin) and the paler, nervier Lale (Ipek Türktan). The scars on the latter's back, and the phones that go unanswered are the first indications this pair are escaping something (or someone) in their past - the advantage writer Emine Yildirim and director Ramin Matin have is that they don't need to give the game away so early, so immediately compelling is the needling relationship between the two siblings: every conversation they have ends in a squabble, and matters take a turn for the outright Baby Jane-ish when Lale strikes up a bond with the nice-guy neighbour Yasemin invites over for dinner one night.

Both women, it transpires, are at the mercy of their bodies, and their sex: Lale spends the first days of the trip anxiously awaiting her period, while Yasemin insists on getting up early to jog around the island, the better to spend the rest of the day lounging around in a bikini, trying to catch the eye. "Are you in heat again?," her sister wonders, a question Yasemin answers more or less on the spot by getting it on with a passing stranger in a cramped cabana. The fact the pipes in the sisters' villa are playing up appears not unconnected; same goes for the TV news bulletin we hear reporting a steep rise in violence against Turkish women, just another of the ways Matin finds of suggesting unease within his otherwise sundrenched widescreen frames.

Further assistance comes from the very good leads, whose chalk-and-cheese performances precisely describe every last ebb and flow in the passive-aggressive intimacy these sisters have come to cling to like a liferaft - without realising it might not take the weight of their combined baggage, and might yet pull them both under. You'll have your own ideas about the effectiveness of the final revelation, which seemed to me to throw up just as many questions as it resolves, but the whole is most impressively controlled: something like a Catherine Breillat movie with warm blood, rather than strychnine, coarsing through its veins.

The Impeccables screens at the Rio Cinema this Sunday at 9.15pm, again on Thu 29 at 6.45, and then at the Hackney Picturehouse on Sat 31 at 3pm.

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