‘The Tailor’ Review: The Turkish Netflix Series Is ‘Phantom Thread’ But For Boring People


The most important aspect of a romantic mystery is that the romance has to be hot enough to melt the screen you’re watching it on, and the mystery has to be tantalizing enough to tear your hair off. To generate romance, you need chemistry, a relatable reason for the characters to fall in love with each other, and interesting conversations to make it seem like the people on the screen are gravitating toward one another because of something intangible but incredibly organic. When it comes to mystery, you can use Hitchcock’s classic “bomb under the table” technique by letting the audience know about the incoming twist and then building up to it. Or else, you can go for the “shock and awe” technique, where you throw the twist in the audience’s face and hope that they’re perplexed. “The Tailor” employs none of these methods to tell its story, and the intention behind this particular decision is its biggest riddle.

Cerm Karci’s “The Tailor” follows Peyami, who is a prolific figure in the fashion industry and is very particular about his dresses because he’s telling a story through each of them. He has an assistant named Suzi, who absorbs all his tantrums and motivates him to be better. His friend, Dimitri, comes from a family that’s as affluent as Peyami’s, and he is clearly not a good influence because he frequently has flings with Peyami’s models. After one of his fashion shows, Peyami learns that his grandfather has passed away, and he goes back to his hometown to continue his work from there. Peyami’s family includes his grandmother, Sülün, and his father, Mustafa, who has a form of mental disability, while his mother’s whereabouts are a big question mark. In the middle of all this, since Dimitri is getting married, Peyami is tasked with making his bride’s wedding dress. It turns out that Dimitri is abusing his fiancée, Esvet, thereby prompting her to escape from his house. Coincidentally, she lands at Peyami’s house as Mustafa’s caregiver. Since Dimitri and Peyami are so close, it’s only a matter of time before the “mystery” is unraveled.

I am aware of the fact that writers are attached to “The Tailor,” and the opening credits of the Netflix series claim that it’s based on a true story. That said, if you were to tell me that the entire script has been written by an A.I., which was prompted to come up with a boring and serialized version of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread,” I would’ve totally believed you. Everything about the show is so robotic and cliche that it genuinely doesn’t feel like a human could’ve conjured this even on their worst day. All the plot points are presented in the most straightforward manner possible. Every opportunity to create some kind of tension or to subvert audience expectations is squandered. Every mystery that’s left unsolved—so that it can probably be picked up in a later season of the show—is so bland that you won’t even feel the urge to see how it’s explored. The only positive thing that it does, albeit not very well, is keep the focus on Peyami’s tailoring. It constantly surrounds his work, and we keep getting hints that, even when Peyami is not paying attention to his shop, things are moving there, thereby creating some form of conflict in his professional and personal lives.

“The Tailor” comes with a disclaimer as soon as every episode begins. You know, the one that appears on the top-left corner of the screen that alerts audiences regarding what they’re going to dive into? And for the first time, I saw the word “discrimination.” Now, any normal human being will assume that there’s some content or dialogue that is purposefully discriminatory to prove a thematic point like movies about racism or other forms of oppression usually have. But, to my surprise, the show gives a pretty stereotypical representation of autism. Yes, it does show how people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) are bullied and forced to stay away from society instead of feeling included. However, the performance that creator Cem Karci has drawn out of Olgun imşek is all types of offensive. It’s so distracting and triggering that it’s nearly impossible to engage with anything else in the entire show. I have lost count of how many times productions have been asked to cast autistic actors to play autistic characters, and yet, here we are again. So, if you can manage not to get too sidetracked by the portrayal of Mustafa, I think you’ll be able to notice that there is some commendable camerawork and editing.

I am not putting the blame entirely on Karci, though, because it’s evident that Olgun Şimşek agreed to play Mustafa like that, and that’s why the final product is so disrespectful. Şimşek has been in the entertainment industry for quite some time. That’s why it seems absurd that he didn’t stop to think that his performance was turning out to be insensitive in nature. Well, maybe it’s all about the money for him, and he doesn’t care about the damage he or his team are doing to people suffering from ASD. As for the rest of the actors in the cast, they have done a fine work. Cagatay Ulusoy and Ifanur Gül are supposed to have this otherworldly chemistry that transcends all forms of morality. They look good. But that’s about it. The writers and the casting directors are at fault here too. Ulusoy and Gül try their best to appear horny or drawn to each other. However, it’s hardly palpable. Salih Bademci’s Dimitri is an amalgamation of every unhinged and spoiled brat that you’ve ever seen. There are no levels to his performance, and hence, it becomes stale after a point instead of being intimidating or dangerous.

In conclusion, if you want to understand the concept of pacing, you should watch “Barry” and “The Tailor” back-to-back. I say this because a lot of people don’t understand how 30 minutes can be made to feel like an hour or just 5 minutes. Bill Hader, Alec Berg, and the rest of the team usually pack so much material into their episodes that it always feels like it’s enough while making you want more. Karci and his team do the same. However, it’s so drab and cyclical that every episode starts to feel like a 3-hour-long film, and that too in the worst way possible. Also, if you really want to watch a romantic mystery or drama, “Phantom Thread” is right there. In that film, Daniel Day-Lewis didn’t even pretend to be a tailor. He actually learned how to do all that, thereby bringing a certain level of authenticity to the performance. And, although I’m not a massive fashionista, I can say the costumes in that movie looked good, while the ones that Peyami makes don’t; which makes the repeated assertions about Peyami’s apparently “brilliant” work feel irritating. With all that said, since this is just my opinion, please watch “The Tailor” and let us know what your thoughts are on the show.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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