At first glance, Kedi is a tribute to cats and how they’ve affected people’s lives. Make no mistake though, the people of Istanbul haven’t figured out a way to turn these weirdos into subservient pets. Instead, the humans have come to accept and revere these half-tame and half-wild creatures.
The movie highlights seven cats. The director is able to capture their quirks and distinct lives, such as Gamsiz’s charming way of knocking on windows and Aslan’s night time prowl to earn his keep. It must have been a huge challenge in keeping up with them. The crew certainly deserves praise for being able to capture their individuality on camera.
These mini-narratives are interspersed with shots of a bustling city. A combination of ground and aerial shots result in serene compositions. The well placed meditative musical score combined with Turkish pop songs give it a local flavor. The movie not only captures the felines who roam Istanbul but also the spirit of the city as well.
At the same time, the documentary is also able to show the relationship of these cats with humans. It’s not exactly a pet-owner relationship, rather an unconditional companionship that respects the cat’s independence. They never compromise the creature’s freedom or hate its strong sense of self in exchange for affection.
The movie made a wise choice of doing away with a narrator. Kedi lets the voices of the people whose lives intersect with cats tell their stories. Despite being nomads, cats still form a bond with the people around them and become a life-affirming reflection of their lives.
The result is a poignant, delightful, therapeutic and unexpectedly moving documentary. In its tribute to the cats of Istanbul, Kedi is also able to show how these creatures can bring out the human capacity for kindness and a sense of community in its purest form. Even though they come and go as they please, people still care.
You don’t need to be a cat owner or Ailurophile to appreciate this documentary unless you’ve made up your mind to dislike cats. If you prefer hallmark stories about pets doing heroic feats for their owners, this documentary has no appeal.
Nonetheless, Kedi achieves what it’s supposed to do and surprisingly more. It’s a slice of life type of documentary that takes a look at a complex creature, their appeal to mankind, and more importantly, how it brings out the humanity in us.
Cats are just like people. You need to pay attention to how they want to be loved and earn their trust. If you can’t do this to an animal who has a mind of their own, what more to a human?
Kedi is a poignant, delightful, therapeutic, and unexpectedly moving tale about humanity and its enduring relationship with a half-tamed half-wild creature.