A great-looking movie with wonderful cinematography, The Festival of Troubadours packs an emotional punch but is too heavy-handed to really leave a mark.
This review of the Netflix film The Festival of Troubadours does not contain spoilers or significant plot points.
The Festival of Troubadours is the sort of movie that someone makes to poetically work through the complex relationships in their life; heavy on symbolism and light on brevity, this movie, available on Netflix, has lots going for it but is potentially too muddled to hit the mark.
Yusef is a single lawyer in his late thirties, his life is busy but disposable. His flat is a monument to cleanliness, neat and tidy, it is everything his relationships are not with women coming and going without leaving a lasting impression. He gets calls from a mysterious woman who is not important enough to him for him to answer. His carefully constructed world begins to collapse when, after 25 years his father, a legendary folk singer, arrives at his door and makes a mess, forcing him to come to terms with his estranged parent.
Abandoned and bitter, he still cares enough for his father to ensure he has enough money and makes inquiries about his health. Upon discovering that his father is terminally ill they embark on a road trip together to say goodbye to old friends and banish old ghosts at the festival of troubadours.
Gorgeous cinematography makes this look beautiful. In one scene, Yusef takes out a camera to capture the majesty of his surroundings, the scene is intended to indicate his detachment from his feelings about his father’s illness, but the image he captures is wonderful. If it wasn’t so maudlin this could easily be an ad from the Turkish tourist board.
They take the long way around their reconciliation, with the film focusing perhaps too much on the father and son’s own dysfunctional romantic relationships. This serves as a narrative device to inform the audience that it is not just Yusef that has been let down by Havas Ali, he is after all an artist. You can see how their lives have shaped them but the real meat of the story is how they reconcile their relationship with each other.
There is a tender and cathartic story between father and son to be told here, one where both lives have been shaped by the failures of the Father before the father asks for his son’s forgiveness, thereby releasing his son from the burden of his resentment. If you look for it closely enough, you might find it here but overall Festival of Troubadours comes in a little too heavy-handed to have the impact it hopes for.
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