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The Criminals – Review/Summary (with Spoilers)

by Amari
Published: Last Updated on

Many young adults worldwide take advantage of privacy, which isn’t legally available to our two leads. But will they risk getting arrested to get it?


Community Rating: 66.74% (2)


 


Director(s)Serhat Karaaslan
Screenplay BySerhat Karaaslan
Date Released (Sundance Film Festival)1/28/2021
Genre(s)Drama, Romance, Young Adult, Non-English
Duration24 Minutes
RatingNot Rated
Noted Cast
NazliDeniz Altan
EmreLorin Merhart

This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text may contain affiliate links, which, if a purchase is made, we’ll earn money or products from the company.

Film Summary

All Nazli and Emre are looking to do is have sex. They are in a committed relationship, love each other, but there is no place to go that will allow them to explore each other’s bodies in private. Why? Well, because they’d need a marriage certificate. So they hatch a plan to try to circumvent the system, and it doesn’t go well.

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: There is partial nudity, Altan’s bare breast, in the film. So, perhaps a light R.
  • Jump Scares/ Laughs/ Tear-Jerking Moments: When they get discovered, things get tense, and with not knowing the customs of the country they are in, you may expect the worst.
  • How exactly were they caught? Were there cameras, or was the person Emre bumped into while going to Nazli’s room, the hotel’s co-owner?

Cast & Characters

Please Note: This is not an exhaustive list of every cast member.

Nazli

Nazli is a university student whose mother is really on her case, and it makes it hard for her to spend quality time with her boyfriend, alone, without raising suspicions.

Emre

Emre (Lorin Merhart) waiting for Nazli to check into the hotel before he does as well

Lorin Merhart appears in The Criminals by Serhat Karaaslan, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Tudor Mircea.

Like Nazli, Emre studies at the local university, economics to be specific, and like his girlfriend, just wants some alone time.

Review

Highlights

Genuine Fear Over What Could Happen To The Leads

The film takes place in Turkey, a conservative country, and with that in mind, there was a genuine fear of not only what would happen if Emre and Nazli got caught but what would they do to evade punishment? A title like The Criminals inspires anything from them being criminals due to trying to fornicate to maybe killing someone to not get arrested. So with each action, each character who threatened their love or freedom, it made you wonder how far they were willing to go and to what degree would those who enforce the law attempt to punish them?

And because you have a genuine love for both as individuals and as a couple, it makes you cross your fingers and toes they’ll be given the grace of just being two youth in love.

Emre and Nazli Came Off As More Than Two Horny Young Adults

When it comes to Emre and Nazli, you know the end goal is to have sex. However, it isn’t this weird one-sided thing where he pressures her or anything like that – it is a mutual desire. Also, The Criminals, within 24 minutes, fits in that there is intimacy beyond sex. Be it the way they laugh, the way they touch, how they defend one another when caught and almost dance around trying to put themselves in front of harm. Each moment reminds you that grand gestures, speeches, or moments meant to burn into your brain aren’t necessary to show love on film.

More often than not, it is the little things. Be it showing two people having a quiet meal without looking at their phones, kissing the inner palm of the other’s hand, or them being so close that they struggle to control themselves. I mean, just reminiscing over the moments make me giggle. For while you know part of the playfulness comes from sexual desire, Emre and Nazli remind you of why one of the big issues with a lot of romance films is sex is made to be far too big a part of a relationship. That and creating these grandeur moments that, of course, make love seem foreign and distant when things get hard.

Emre (Lorin Merhart) and Nazli (Deniz Altan) having a meal together

Deniz Altan and Lorin Merhart appear in The Criminals by Serhat Karaaslan, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Tudor Mircea.

After all, if the chasm between someone at their best and at their worst isn’t filled with little moments to remind you why you’re with them, why would you stay and weather that storm?

The Criminals Overall

Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)Recommended

The 24 minutes you spend with Altan and Merhart is more than enough to get you hooked while watching The Criminals, yet it still leaves you wanting more. Not with the goal of them getting to have uninterrupted sex, but exploring, since sex is such a challenge to have, them finding ways to be intimate beyond that. And to a certain degree, you can see Karaaslan delivers that.

Hence the positive label and recommendation. We’re left wanting more from this story and just understanding when you live in a country with such rules and expectations, how do young adults work the system?

Movie Directory

An old school film reel drawn by artist Dean Nelson.

Ratings

  • Recommended: Some of the best seen movies we have ever watched and mentioned to friends, family, and strangers as films that need to be seen.
  • Positive (Worth Seeing): Whether you’ll have to go to the movies, download or stream, movies of this category are worth your time and money with few, if any, qualms from us.
  • Mixed (Divisive): Due to this movie having a few quirks, of which may work for some and for others be a problem, we believe your enjoyment of this movie will depend on your taste.
  • Negative (Acquired Taste): While one or two elements kept us going until the end, unfortunately, we’re of the opinion this film never reached the potential it was marketed to have.

Streaming Tags


Special Categories/ Tags

  • Indie: By our definition, independent films are films you have to seek to find due to limited availability or lack of a marketing push.
  • Film Festival: Featured in this tag are films and shorts which were discovered thanks to various film festivals, so some of the productions may not have wide availability but still may deserve to be on your watch.
  • Shorts: Be it ten or fifteen minutes, or a half-hour, these quick teases or films get right to the point, often show the potential of filmmakers and the actors who have joined them in their journey.

Summary

Emre and Nazli Came Off As More Than Two Horny Young Adults - 89%
Genuine Fear Over What Could Happen To The Leads - 88%

89%

The 24 minutes you spend with Altan and Merhart is more than enough to get you hooked while watching The Criminals, yet it still leaves you wanting more.

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