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"A Round of Applause" Movie Review

While I was checking the new movies on Netflix to see if there were any new and good movies to watch, I stumbled upon this mini-series called "A Round of Applause" ("Kuvvetli Bir Alkış" in Turkish). It directly drew my attention, mostly because it looked quite different than the other Turkish series and it had been the first in the "Most Watched Series" category of Netflix for more than a week. Also, my mother had watched it during the past weeks and told me that it had a style that is "different than most" and a little "eerie", and she said that she is curious about what I would think about the series. Therefore, I watched it.

First, I'd like to mention a few basic information about the series. It is a +16 series that has famous Turkish actors and actresses, such as Aslıhan Gürbüz, Fatih Artman, and Cihat Süvarioğlu. It has one season, containing 8 episodes, all approximately 30 minutes (which makes it one of the "mini-series"). Netflix put this series in the "game changer" category, which I think is a good decision.


I've always been a fan of eerie series, I watched series such as "Creeped Out" at a very young age and have been a fan of the "creepy" concept ever since, also I've been interested in various forms of art, which also made me interested in artistic cinematic shots. I could say, with no hesitation at all, that "A Round of Applause" is officially my favorite series now. I could say that it both has an eerie atmosphere and an artistic style, which makes it a perfect series for my cinematic taste. It also has a lot of serious criticism for modern issues, such as adults becoming childish and children becoming adult-ish, how people just get in the "parental" roles just to fit in the perception of society nowadays, how people cannot understand their roles and what they really want to do in the society, which leads to a lot of people who cannot find their way in life, how couples affect each other in marriages nowadays, etc. Now, let me share a quick summary of it.


1st Episode- Birth- The episode starts with the mother figure, Zeynep, meditating and her husband, Mehmet, watching her meditate. She doesn't like to be watched while meditating, which leads to them arguing.

Then, they go shopping for their baby, they buy a lot of stuff, diapers, pacifiers, toys,... Afterward, they realize that they have been shopping for a baby that they don't even have yet, that Zeynep isn't pregnant yet, and that they just were ready for the "parental perspective" of society but not to actually be a parental figure for a child. The scenes look "unconnected" to each other in some way, but also complete each other, according to the plot. We don't see Zeynep and Mehmet's personal lives fully, what their passions are, and what they're doing for a living, but the scenes give us just enough information for us to understand what kind of atmosphere their child will be raised in.


They have a couple as their guests in their home, which I think symbolizes the childish, traumatized, and spoiled adult figures we have in our society. They act like teenagers and annoy our couple, maybe even leading them to question if they want to be parents at one point. I was extremely annoyed by the girl in those scenes as well, but I guess that just shows how good of an actress she is because according to the plot, she must be annoying.

Then we see the child of our main couple, waiting to be born. He looks really dirty and confused, smoking in his mother's tummy. We see the tummy as a small room, filled with the dreams Zeynep couldn't fulfill in her teenage and childhood years. Clothes that she couldn't wear, toys that she couldn't play with, even a phone that she couldn't use... The kid is extremely depressed, filled with a lot of psychological issues, and even having an existential crisis before even being born. We see the child talking with another child from another mother, while his mother stands next to the other pregnant lady. They talk about how you should know your goals in life, to fulfill a full life, otherwise, how won't be living a full life. We see the other child behind bars, giving some political messages, like how ideologies are given up the second people are born.


In Turkish, there's a saying, like "portakalda vitamin", which could be translated as "a vitamin in an orange", which is used to represent kids before they were born. The most striking message of this episode is the fact that the kid wants to stay a "vitamin in an orange" and doesn't want to be born.

2nd Episode- At This Point- We see Zeynep delivering the baby in the first scene. Our main couple has a bit of a hard time getting the kid to sleep and dealing with the average problems of newborn babies' parents. One day, they sleep and wake up, to find that the child is missing. They check everywhere but cannot find him. They then realize that the child went back to the tummy of the mother, which again, makes the series extremely unexpected. The child cannot find his aim in life before delivery and therefore, doesn't want to live, because everyone takes life way too seriously. We see a lot of iconic scenes in this episode, such as the quiet scream of the father and the mother calmly telling her husband, "The kid is missing" with a smile. Also, I think that the scene where Zeynep gets called by Mehmet when he's already there gives a strong message about how couples lose the psychological perspective of their relationship in marriage. At the end of this episode, Zeynep delivers the baby once again and the second episode ends. Also, a piece of really good Persian music is used at the end of this episode, you can listen to it from this link: https://youtu.be/Cor1ew7uQ9A?si=rHfXkdymMOntDnkS


3rd Episode- First Breakup- The 3rd Episode starts with Metin, the child of our main couple going through his first breakup at 5 years old. The girl, Ahu, and he go through an extremely mature talk about their breakup, and how they felt about each other afterward. The girl is annoyed by Metin using fancy words in all his talks and Metin wants to get back with her because he still loves her. We see a really mature breakup for 5-year-olds.

We see Metin wandering around Istanbul and coming back home. We also see the relationship of his parents, and how they argue as a couple. At one point, Metin gives a speech about how "If she wants to improve his confidence as a child, she first needs to improve her relationship with her husband and make him believe that two people can get along." and how "First with milk, then smoothies, then milkshakes, she never stopped 'breastfeeding' him" which I think shows the biggest mistake of modern parenting in the best way possible. At the end of the 3rd episode, Metin comes into the hallway of their home while his parents are arguing about how they want a divorce and gives a poem in the Icelandic language and leaves, which gives a lot of messages, criticizing how his parents argue in English but he learned English this way, etc. He leads to make his parents cry, hearing his poem. This scene is often found "disturbing" by the audience but it is my favorite scene in the whole series.

Also, the fact that Zeynep says, "I want a divorce" at every stop in the plot was a really good detail in my opinion.


4th Episode- "66"- The episode starts in the teenage years of Metin, making rap music about current issues, in a very sharp and strong language. The episode's name first seems absurd to the audience, but it comes from the most iconic scene of the series, in which the parents talk with the teacher Metin, and he says that Metin cannot even multiply 3 and 7, and thinks 3x7=66, in this scene, we see that the teacher is the writer and director of the series, "Berkun Oya", who has his unique style of writing and directing movies, which I find extremely impressive. We see some posters saying that "They encourage children to follow their hobbies" and such... The teacher and the father say how not knowing how to multiply will harm him in his future life, while the mother supports her child no matter what, but this episode critisizes how maybe she supports her son "too much", which leads him not improving himself and not finding his way in life.

5th Episode- Plants & Friends- We see adult Metin working as a DJ and seeing Ahu at a party. They then meet outside and share their current situations with each other. Ahu shares that she'll open an international cafe, in the concept of "Plants & Friends", which then Metin silently criticizes. Then we see Ahu asking questions to Metin while he's giving a Q&A session on a stage. He then realizes that his mother is one of the people watching him and asks her to leave in a very mean tone. His mother faints, and he brings her back home. He then realizes how his parents' relationship isn't going ok and that his father is out all day, wandering around. At the end of the episode, we see Metin breaking the 4th wall and asking a person not to shoot anymore.


6th Episode- Return- In the last episode, we see Metin painted and dressed all in orange as a street performer. We see a lot of dilemmas and references. We see his dilemma to return to his mother's tummy or to continue his life as a person who doesn't have an aim in life. We see references to the "Gezi Park Events", which is a past political event in Turkiye (like the lady running away in a red dress). Metin runs into his first-ever friend whom he met in the tummy of his mother. But he doesn't remember him, nor the speech he gave about an aim in life. Which again, shows how people give up battling for their ideologies and beliefs the second they're born.


There's an extremely impressive scene of Zeynep talking with Mehmet when he's asleep, in the scene, she gives a speech as an adult and an old person, which symbolizes that nothing she says has changed in the past years.


In the last scene of the series, Metin falls down from the chair-like platform on which he performs a meditation scene on the street and returns to the womb. His mother, who is old by now, cries and laughs at the same time, and the series ends.


To be honest, I know that this isn't a series that everyone will like, maybe most people would even hate it. Because it is really artistic and has a ton of complex references. But as a person interested in those, I give the series a 9/10. It is not a perfect 10, because it is easy to give up on watching the first episode, but if you continue watching it, and if you like artistic cinematography that has a lot of references, I'm sure it'll maybe even be your favorite series because it is my favorite now. Also, this was the first production of Berkun Oya that I watched, but I was so impressed by it that I think I'll watch all his productions from now on.

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