Hot Take: Warm and soft as its subject matter and slight at 80 minutes. The documentary does enough to create a narrative around the excellent cinematography.
Although Kedi centers around cats and kittens to drive its visuals and attempts to create characters out of some of its featured felines, human kindness is actually at the film’s heart. The street cats of Istanbul are highlighted in this 80-minute documentary from Turkish-born filmmaker Ceyda Torun and focuses on 7 cats, in particular — Sari, Duman, Bengu, Asian Parcasi, Gamsiz, Psikopat and Deniz. While the focus is on the cats, we learn about the kindness of the people of Istanbul in their love and affection for these stray cats who take residence pretty much wherever they feel they’d like to take residence amongst the citizens of Istanbul.
It’s a rather easy watch even in Turkish with English subtitles as the low-to-the-ground, cat’s eye-view camera shots and aerial shots of cats descending from rooftops are accompanied by Turkish pop music and a soft almost lullabyish score from Kira Fontana. The unexpected adoration from the people of Istanbul toward what some would probably consider a nuisance is also warm and fuzzy and provides a fitting tale of unconditional love toward the cats featured in the documentary.
The documentary also completely avoids any clinical conversations about the cat population of Istanbul and any academic explanation of the Istanbul street cat phenomenon. Instead it’s a film told in layman’s terms by the people impacted by the presence of these fabulous felines. They have stories to share about the cats which anthropomorphize the featured cats and add to the narrative of the documentary.
Whether or not Kedi finds its way on the short list for Best Documentaries of 2017 remains to be seen but if the Academy Awards had a trophy for Cutest Film, Kedi would be a number one contender. However, it goes beyond its cuddliness and paints a broad brush of human compassion and general goodwill toward the street cats of Istanbul which is unexpectedly sweet and selfless. It’s not a characteristic we see in our daily lives frequently enough which makes Kedi more sweet and enjoyable than the adorable visuals provided.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Cats for Days
While there are plenty of tales to be told about the documentary’s 7 featured felines, there are also plenty of montages of playful cats and kittens. It’s like a YouTube search for cats on steroids.
Of all the cats in Kedi, you’ll probably find a favorite. Duman, described on the Kedi website as “The Gentleman”, hangs outside of a delicatessen but, unlike the other cats of the film, never goes in. Instead, he stands outside and paws at the window whenever hungry as a sign that he would like some food.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Lulling the Audience to Sleep
Kedi‘s subjects accompanied with a rather soothing soundtrack is super relaxing. Unfortunately, that can provide the perfect setting to take a catnap during the viewing.