‘Last Call For Istanbul’ Review: Netflix’s Turkish Film Needs To Be Watched Twice


Last Call for Istanbul is the story of a therapist’s advice working out. A married couple, Mehmet and Serin, have been dealing with troubles in their relationship, and they are given the idea to test if they would still fall in love if they met for the first time once again. That test comprises the first half of the film, and the background of the test is the second half. There is no doubt that it is a beautiful movie, though we believe that the audience may take the wrong message from it. The evident message of the story seems to be that ‘love conquers all,’ but perhaps the deeper message is that it is extremely important to assess each other’s conflict resolution methods before taking the big leap in life. Mehmet and Serin’s story is proof that one should never get married if they have still not outgrown the idyllic phase of their relationship.

Last Call for Istanbul is the kind of story that makes more sense when you look back on it. There is a huge shift in the audience’s perception of the courtship of the couple, which somehow makes up for more than half the magic of the movie. First things first, the concept of the movie was perfect. It was simple, yet with enough intrigue for a single twist to change everything about the story. The banter of two mysterious strangers turns into a conversation spilling with doubts and resentment when looked back at with perspective. A potentially offensive question becomes comical when you realize that the two leads were married to each other this whole time. This is a mark of some very good writing, and it is only elevated by the ease of the actors. The actress is indeed very beautiful, and the actor is strong and charming. There are barely any supporting actors, and these two carry the show on their shoulders.

For this couple, it is about checking whether their marriage still has a chance or not. In many ways, this seemingly romantic fantasy seems to be very grounded in reality for us. When discussing the future of the relationship, the couple wonders whether they will even like each other since they have changed so much from the people they used to be. This is true for so many marriages that it becomes difficult to assess whether the feelings are still present or if it is their memory that is holding them back. We will never tire of saying how layered the conversation on the rooftop is for this couple. New York manages to be one of the main characters in the movie. There is something about the city that simply refuses to fade into the background. It either enhances the beauty of the story by inculcating itself into it like a seamless flavor, or it stands out like an unignorable mole on the face, but it is always there.

Coming back to the story, the initial moments of tension in the movie are not because we think two soulmates are having a ‘meet cute’, but because it looks like two people are about to commit adultery. Another possibility that sneakily comes to mind is that the people are pretending to be married to someone else so that they can make the other person comfortable, or, in Serin’s case, keep them at arm’s length. This theory would make more sense if you were familiar with the Indian movie Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. But the twist makes it better than anything else.

Secondly, there is no use in pretending that there isn’t a fair bit of objectification in the film, but kudos to the writers for not making it look forced. Another thing that must be admitted is the beauty of the chemistry between the actors. Contrary to their story, the chemistry wasn’t ‘sizzling’ or ‘jumping out of the screen,’ but it felt familiar with a fair amount of tension. It is surprising how that works in the context of the story because, had that been different, we wouldn’t have liked these two together. In many ways, the real practicality and comedy of the movie is that for a story based on high passions and enduring love, the final message at the end was Mehmet asking his wife to be willing to be bored once in a while so that they could stay and build their lives together. Last Call for Istanbul is full of these clever contradictions that make it so worthy of being watched repeatedly.

One particular flaw of the movie is that the ending felt a little rushed. In so many ways, it took the characters back to square one after the journey they had. Serin was right when she addressed the problems with their night spent together as strangers. It is hard to believe that a few words changed everything she was feeling. It almost looked as if she wanted to feel what she had felt when she first met her husband, and that meant that this experiment had the wrong effect. If only the two people had taken the time to do a few more sessions with their findings from their night in New York and discussed their issues with the knowledge that they still loved each other, this would have been a far superior film. All it would have taken was an additional ten to fifteen minutes in the narrative to add this layer to the story, and it is quite tragic that it was omitted in favor of the cliche airport theatrics. It is almost as if the writer proved in the first half that this is a good story and lost the zeal to do more as it reached the end. These are the kind of movies that make for iconic romance books, and frankly speaking, a more thought-out ending would have made this the perfect love story.

On a different note, we can’t help but wonder what a linear narrative would have made the film look like. The reason for the tension would have been clear, and perhaps the couple ending up together at the end of the night may have looked like a greater mistake. It is hard to say, but a second viewing of Last Call for Istanbul, which is highly recommended, would answer that.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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Last Call for Istanbul is the kind of story that makes more sense when you look back on it. There is a huge shift in the audience’s perception of the courtship of the couple, which somehow makes up for more than half the magic of the movie.'Last Call For Istanbul' Review: Netflix's Turkish Film Needs To Be Watched Twice