One-Way to Tomorrow Movie Review: A enjoyable journey through love
Netflix’s first Turkish original film, One-Way to Tomorrow, reminds us of our love for well-told stories, regardless of their ubiquitous nature
As humans, we are obsessed with stories. All of us have our familiar anecdotes, for diverse moods and emotions, of various shapes and sizes. And yet we never tire of hearing them and telling them as well. This is something that Stanley Kubrick once observed about films: “Everything has already been done. Every story has been told, every scene has been shot. It’s our job to do it one better.” And Netflix’s first Turkish original film, One-Way to Tomorrow, reminded me of this: our love for well-told stories, regardless of their ubiquitous nature.
Cast: Dilan Çiçek Deniz, Metin Akdülger
Director: Ozan Açıktan
Streaming on: Netflix
Adapted from the Swedish film, Hur man stoppar ett bröllop, One-Way to Tomorrow’s premise is familiar. The bare-bones one-liner might remind us of several films: the Before trilogy, Jab We Met, and several others. It is about two strangers, Ali and Layla, who end up sharing a 10-hour train journey. Despite Ali doing her a favour, Layla resists his attempts to have a conversation. The initial friction pushes Layla to prove a point, and the conversation begins. And through the stream of conversation, we explore their personalities. The writing is snappy, witty, and delightfully organic as it ambles through their lives, nonchalantly throwing details our way. The best dialogues are the ones that don’t feel like one; where all the million decisions taken to craft a line, are completely invisible when we see it onscreen. And One-Way to Tomorrow achieves this with stupendous success.
But what makes the film more interesting is how well it uses its limited space. The drama is staged efficiently, with the cinematography constantly reflecting the mental state of the character: reflections behind them as they ponder on the past; having them in a corner as they talk about what’s bothering them; merging Layla and Ali’s silhouettes with a solid over-the-shoulder shot as they discover how their lives are related. The two times they get off the train are when they are overwhelmed with what they have heard, and there is a need to pause and sift through the emotional baggage. The need for space, both literally and figuratively, is felt deeply.
The edit also reflects the intensity of the conversation: faster cuts as trivial information gets shared, while the frames progressively linger longer as they figure out all the threads that connect their lives, processing and breathing the new information that they present to each other. (Watch out for a beautiful shot where the cinematographer manages to capture the duo, the greenery, and the doorway to their coupe in one shot: a documentation of how our past, present, and future coexist in our existence each day.) Dilan Çiçek Deniz and Metin Akdülger bring out nuanced performances that further make us get deeply vested in their lives.
One-Way to Tomorrow is about two very flawed people who discuss the reality of life, and how unfair it can get sometimes. About aspirations, regrets, and how the grass is always greener on the other side; About the lives we lost to live the life we had to. It speaks about how love is somehow the cornerstone of our existence, and yet chains us in unimaginable ways. A strength and a weakness. It’s a journey, where you don’t know where you’ll end. As Layla says, “Where you're travelling with someone, you can't decide where to go on your own.” What is love, how does one recognise it? Is it the moment someone catches your attention? Or is it born in the time you spend in exploring that bond, sustaining it? There’s no way to tell. But like Ali and Layla discover, in this pleasant slice-of-the-life film, there is only one way to tomorrow. That is to live today, in all its glory.