You’d think a guy this obsessed with private eye Philip Marlowe, particularly Elliott Gould’s interpretation of the gumshoe in Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye,” could figure things out a lot sooner than “10 Days.”
But that’s the length of time in the title of the wry Turkish riff on Marlowe, “10 Days of a Good Man.” So it doesn’t matter if our grizzled hero, Sadik, turns and shouts at Gould’s face on his TV screen that he would’ve solved this “in TWO minutes!”
Sadik (Nejat Isler) has a few good excuses. He wasn’t always a private investigator. He used to be a lawyer. He wasn’t always alone, but his ex-wife Rezzan (Nur Fettahoglu) took his devotion for granted.
And if there’s a gumshoe story more gummed-up by a parade of characters, layers of conspiracy and story threads that yank not just Sadik but the viewer in different directions almost start to finish, I’ve blessedly avoided it. Convoluted? Muddled? Clumsy, even? Sure.
All becomes clear by the end, but what happens in the finale, film noir fans? The villain(s) talk and talk and lay it all out for us.
Sadik is summoned to the office of a former law partner (Senay Gürler) for a simple job. It’s not as simple as what the curvaceous call-girl neighbor (Ilayda Alisan) needs him to do. But…priorities.
Lawyer Maide wants Sadik to find her nanny/housekeeper/cook’s missing son. Pretty boy Tevik is his mother’s “nightingale” who disappeared from his errand-boy job at a local hair salon.
It’s right here that we buy into Sadik’s complaint (in subtitled Turkish, or dubbed) that Marlowe would’ve guessed a few things about Tevik straight away, emphasis on “straight.”
Sadik questions the mother, a hair salon colleague and the pharmacist down the street whom Sadik frequented. The private eye figures out he’s getting warm the minute burly goons grab him and hustle him into a van, in broad daylight.
Sadik Demir was certainly more polished in his previous legal life, glimpsed in flashbacks. These days, his uniform is a relatively-clean t-shirt, hoodie and corduroy overcoat. He smokes like a chimney, and only drinks whisky or milk. We can guess why.
He hears Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” in his head, and is always tracking the seconds by counting in musical tempos — andante, grave, allegro.
Sadik loves Marlowe because “He’s another guy who talks to himself, like I do.” He narrates his thoughts and even says the silent part out loud, just to himself, time and again.
He isn’t a tough guy, isn’t “packing” and yet remains somewhat unflappable, even after he’s yanked out of that van and into a torture session being presided over by the menacing “Sir” (Erdal Yildiz). Sir wants information about Tevik, too.
Every woman Sadik encounters lists “good guy” as his credentials. That’s the ex-colleague’s appeal, the plea of the nanny/housekeeper, the label his ex uses, parroted by the hooker-neighbor and by the nanny’s saucy schoolgirl daughter (Ilayda Akdoga).
Can a “good guy” with limiting tradecraft crack the case, or even survive it?
Longtime TV director Uluç Bayraktar and his screenwriters cram a season’s worth of characters and plot wrinkles into this two hour tale.
And they trot out the genre tropes, trying to conjure a Turkish delight out of movie conventions, from the “not a tough guy” to the noir narration to the “saucy schoolgirl” and the clingy, mercenary ex-wife and the good-hearted hooker, half his age, who falls for this “old man.”
The many characters and intrigues-within-intrigues make “10 Days” hard to follow. So let’s make the “saucy schoolgirl” a sort of “tart ex machina,” helping Sadik along at several points, losing her cocky oversexed swagger when she figures out she’s in over her head.
There are villains straight out of Shakespeare’s “physical defects denote evil” crutch, with refugees, human trafficking and ritual murder (the opening scene) forcing all the explanations and simplistic tidying up of the finale.
Yet Isler — he starred in director Bayraktar’s thriller “9,75” — has the charisma and presence to keep us watching, and maybe rewatching some sequences to figure out who the hell she or he is and just how the hell they connect to everyone and everything else.
Kind of an entertaining, watchable mess, this one.
Rating: TV-MA, graphic violence, nudity
Cast: Nejat Isler, Nur Fettahoglu, Ilayda Alisan, Ilayda Akdogan, Senay Gürler and Erdal Yildiz
Credits: Directed by Uluç Bayraktar, scripted by Mehmet Eroglu and Damla Serim. A Netflix release.
Running time: 2:03