The concluding film in the filmmaker’s “Tales About Darkness” trilogy. Film director Ahmet toys with the notion of casting a burglar he caught breaking into his place in his adaptation of Crime and Punishment. A story that asks whether a man ruled by egotism and arrogance can deliberately choose positive values such as spirituality and solitude.(Mubi)
Zeki Demirkubuz plays the lead character Ahmet who wants to make a film about Dostoyevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’. He falls into a deep depression, loses interest in the film and life, pushes those who love him away and cannot complete the film.(Imdb)
by Firat Yucel, Mental Minefields: The Dark Tales of Zeki Demirkubuz, 2007
In Bekleme Odası (The Waiting Room, 2003), Zeki Demirkubuz tries to disconnect himself from his aesthetic concerns and stylistic attachments in order to deliver a film that unmasks the mythical approach to auteurism and intellectual intensity. In other words, the film demystifies the idea of the intellectual film director in a rather vulgar manner. Through its consciously inelegant minimalism and distractive spectacle editing, The Waiting Room unpolishes the mystified reality of the auteur director, not only by revealing him in the most casual and ordinary situations, but also by cutting loose from all the predetermined ways of aestheticizing everyday banality.
The film is about a director, Ahmet, who is played by Zeki Demirkubuz, and the problems he faces in his personal life during the project development process of his next film, an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Captured by a strong and baseless feeling of apathy, Ahmet disconnects himself from everything in his life that makes (or may make) sense: he lies to his wife by saying that he cheats, he cancels his new film project, he forces his assistant—who is in love with him—to hate him by denying any kind of emotional bond between them. The process he goes through can be defined as a strong and insuppressible urge for self-destruction and avoidance of all rational connections with life.
The Waiting Room is foremost about the arbitrary nature of life but it is also about a man’s inability to maintain a Dostoyevskian intensity in the present. Throughout the movie, Dostoyevsky’s portrait hanging on the wall reminds us of the enormous gap between Ahmet’s great expectations for capturing the existential intensity of Crime and Punishment and his present life which does not sustain such profoundness. His everyday life, degraded by the sublime object of literature, loses all its meaning to him. Drifting through a vacuum of causeless flow, he reluctantly clings to the arbitrariness around him by casting a thief (whom he catches in the backyard of his apartment) for the role of Raskolnikov and making love with the women who visit him. The nature of his relationship with women points to one of the most important themes of The Waiting Room: the search for absolute honesty and truthfulness. Ahmet’s rude attitude towards his wife and his assistant is not an indication of his sexual competency, but an extreme desire to maintain honesty in relationships; it is a desire so extreme that it sometimes pushes him to cross the line between truth and deceit. Hence, we should underline the fact that this is not a film about a man’s indifference toward life; it is about a man who thinks of indifference as a pathway to genuineness.
Of course, Demirkubuz’s denial of aesthetics and beauty in the cinematic sense, corresponds to Ahmet’s search for purity and openness. This is probably one of the reasons why he chose to play the character himself. However, The Waiting Room should not be mistaken for an autobiographical film, not in the classic sense. The director we see in this film is not Zeki Demirkubuz, but a reflection of his effort to face and reveal the evil in himself. In the interview concluding this publication, Demirkubuz says that speaking evil and manifesting the innermost evil thoughts—even if you do not necessarily have them—is a precondition for anyone who wants to form an honest, reliable and genuine communication with others. Consequently, The Waiting Room is his effort to develop a genuine communication with the viewer. It is his confession of his inability to capture the existential depth of Crime and Punishment. Yet, this does not mean that he will not try to adapt the novel, as the last scene of the film shows: a director who starts to write his script again, this time not as an adaptation of the novel, but as a script about not being able to adapt it. In effect, what we have seen is precisely this film, titled The Waiting Room.