Directed by: #SezenKayhan
Written by: Sezen Kayhan
A Hard Day in the Empire Movie Review
A satirical short film from #filmmaker Sezen Kayhan, A Hard Day in the Empire takes a glowering look at the embedded gender discrimination that takes place in our society and workplaces.
Taking place during the shoot of a new television show, we meet Cansu (Ayris Alptekin), an overworked and underappreciated art department assistant whose tireless efforts are met with scorn and reprisal from the show's unrelentingly mean director (Murat Kiliç). As each of Cansu's attempts to please the man in charge receive increasingly hostile reactions, we also witness a growing sense of sexism permeating the shoot.
Having long since been revealed for inhabiting the very worst of sexual predators and a deeply rooted economic unfairness towards women, the film and television industry is the perfect setting for this tale of abusive male power. Kayhan being a female director is likely to be drawing from experience, either her own or those she knows within the industry. This sense of authenticity gives A Hard Day in the Empire a harder edge.
Regrettably the narrative is undercooked, as is the characterisation. There are small moments of development, such as learning of Cansu's unpaid rent, but these aren't furthered enough for the audience to fully align themselves with her suffering. The director, whilst unlikeable, is not villainous enough for the viewer to feel a call-to-arms energy and instead we view his nitpicking as mild eccentricity rather than conscious manipulation. The mansplaining which occurs during the shoot is arguably the most offensive aspect to the central character and her inevitable reaction feels aimed at powerful men in general.
The #filmmaking is solid but lacks any remarkable prowess. We aren't struck with much atmosphere which creates a struggle when the jokes are trying to land. Although, there is a nice recurring gag about moving props in the scene which will get laughs, as will the actor's sweaty chin.
Behind the scenes of movie making can often be a choice setting for comedy (see Hail, Caesar). The hijinks and calamity that ensue when the cast and crew are put under enormous pressure and limited budget can bring out some seriously funny scenes. To have laced this with a strong thematic depth could have seen A Hard Day in the Empire become a noteworthy short film. However, the uninspired narrative and comedic misfires turn it into a footnote of mild and harmless upset than the sharp and burning outrage it could have been.