REVIEW: ‘Godspeed’ Drives a Bumpy Road to a Shocking Conclusion

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Godspeed - But Why Tho

Godspeed (Yolun Acik Olsun) Is a Turkish-language Netflix Original film directed by Mehmet Ada Öztekin and based on the book of the same name by Hakan Evrensel. Army veteran Salih (Engin Akyürek) is determined to put a stop to the wedding of his friend’s beloved and drags his former subordinate and friend Kerim (Tolga Saritas) with him on this road trip movie.

As far as road trips go, an eight and an hour drive with Salih doesn’t sound thrilling on a good day. He’s an absolute grump, haunted by a military injury that cost him a leg, and determined to give Kerim a hard time at every turn, even though he’s just doing his best to stand by his friend. So grabbing his wife Duygu’s (Belfu Benian) money and gun and giving grief to every other person they encounter on the trip to Turkey’s southeastern shore only makes him sound all the more like the road trip partner from hell.

Of course, Godspeed isn’t a buddy comedy and Salih’s pain is the centerpiece of the movie. How he copes with the pain and how he pushes others away no matter how much they are committed to supporting him teeters back and forth between effecting and empty depending on the scene. Sometimes, I felt for Salih. Sometimes, the acting just fell short of conveying the depth of his pain and left me unconvinced. The structure of the movie perhaps didn’t help either.

The movie is split between the ongoing story and flashbacks to Salih and Kerim’s lives before and during their army service and prior to Salih’s injury. For the majority of the film, the flashbacks just felt extraneous and sometimes even confusing, as I had a hard time distinguishing whether all of them were sequential or not. Some of these scenes simply went on for too long while others, especially later on and as the two characters’ relationship builds, were quite impactfully.

Eventually, though, every scene comes full circle when the shocking ending makes every moment prior count. I would have enjoyed the film far less were it not for the completely unforeseen twist that short-circuited my brain for a few comments as it adjusted to watching the movie post-realization. I’m not sure it makes some of the lethargic scenes all that much more enjoyable in practice, but in hindsight, it at least helped me appreciate them more.

Where Godspeed definitely excels is in its cinematography. The scenes are visually gorgeous consistently throughout the movie, nearly no matter where they take place. Every shot captivated me with the diversity of locales held within one country and enamored me with Turkey’s diversity. The hair and makeup left me sometimes uncertain early on as to whether I was still looking at the same characters during the two time periods, as it was never clear how much time was passing. And the score was very uneven. At times, it was one of the most powerful elements in the scene. At others, I wanted to mute it because it was so repetitive and the instrumentation felt grating.

While a bit uneven, Godspeed nonetheless affected me, in large thanks to its conclusion. While the final act was absolutely twice as long as it needed to be—shorter shots would have felt far more impactful than the quite long cuts that felt longer than anything in the movie beforehand. The only payoff I wish had been stronger was that of Duygu’s arc. As the faithful wife, she didn’t have much characterization considering the large role she plays and the amount of screentime she receives. For as well as the ending lands, it would have landed that much harder had I felt any kind of real connection between Salih and Duygu. Their relationship is mostly told, not shown, at least when they’re both on screen together.

As a whole the road to Godspeed’s satisfying conclusion is bumpy. But the ride is ultimately worth it in the end, even if the end should have been a bit shorter. It’s a beautiful movie to look at, is filled with good friendship and tragic love, and has a shocking turn that left me reeling and reconsidering my entire perspective on the movie prior to the final act.

Godspeed is streaming now on Netflix.


Godspeed
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

As a whole the road to Godspeed’s satisfying conclusion is bumpy. But the ride is ultimately worth it in the end, even if the end should have been a bit shorter. It’s a beautiful movie to look at, is filled with good friendship and tragic love, and has a shocking turn that left me reeling and reconsidering my entire perspective on the movie prior to the final act.