On Helplessness: Our Review of ‘When I’m Done Dying’ on OVID

Posted in What's Streaming? by - December 13, 2023
On Helplessness: Our Review of ‘When I’m Done Dying’ on OVID

Fehmi (Oktay Çubuk), the protagonist of When I’m Done Dying, is an up and coming rapper. Sohe, and thus the viewers, find ourselves in a peculiar ecosystem. He hooks up with a female DJ from the other side of the tracks, Devin (Hayal Köseoğlu). After that passionate night though, he tells her he has to leave so he can be on time for his work at a naan place, and she gives him enough money that he uses for fare. It’s strange watching a man take money from a woman. That scene is, then, indicative of what’s to come as a few characters support Fehmi, a man unable to help himself.

This is one of the few films on OVID this month about a musician and the second one that’s a bit of a downer. This is a film that needs a few saving graces. One of those is that it has some semblance of realism instead of it being a full on cynical film. Likewise, Fehmi isn’t a total screw-up, since there are moments when opportunities like working with bigger rappers. A part of a duo with his friend Yunus (Eren Çiğdem), they land a chance to work at a real studio. Sadly, there’s a drug epidemic on his side of Istanbul and he falls victim to it. People like Devin and his brother Erdem (Ushan Çakır) try to cover for him. But all that help may not work for him.

Rap music weaves in and out of this film, dipping into some tropes that modern musicals have. And of course, some of those tropes require suspension of disbelief, like Fehmi’s recording sessions that don’t use equipment properly. The film is also fascinating especially when one looks at it within the lens of Turkish and MENA cinema and one can speculate on whether streaming makes depictions of certain things freer. It shows two tasteful straight sex scenes as well as scenes depicting drug use. Queer depiction, though, feels more strict. There may be more to the brother than just the gay jokes that minor characters direct at him.

Nisan Dag’s second feature also has an earnestness to it that borders on cringe. As the film depicts Fehmi’s drug use, it sometimes waves into animation segments that are fine. It gets less fine, however, when he starts talking to a bad animation rendition of Tupac. Yes, middle class women fall for guys like Fehmi all the time, but it needed to expand more on why Devin takes pity on him and gives him chance after chance. And it’s strange that this is a rap film but that title is real emo. Nonetheless, most of those things feel more like a case by case basis. For some reason, the film pulls off a third act save that makes viewers feel for Fehmi.

Watch When I’m Done Dying on OVID.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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