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Review of Ersan Kuneri’s life and films – a terribly unfunny affair

May 14, 2022

This review of The Life and Films of Ersan Kuneri is spoiler-free.

Netflix’s Terrifyingly Unfunny and Brutally Overlong New Turkish Comedy The Life and Films of Ersan Kuneri is the least fun I’ve had in the streaming world this week, which is saying a lot since I spent most of yesterday watching and re-watching a kids motocross show. But here we are. This eight-part satire on the fickleness and inflexible attitudes of the film industry is a real chore and a pale imitation of a better show in The Naked Director.

Comparisons to this two-season Japanese hit are mostly found in the titular Ersan Kuneri, played by show creator Cem Yilmaz. He’s a director of erotic films trying to break out of the crass of adult entertainment, and he plans to do so by making serious mainstream films, from period dramas to horror films, films with anti -drugs, superhero actors and melodramas, without a care in the world for what anyone else in the industry thinks of him or his work. (That is to say everything the cares of the world – you know how bad narcissists are.)

The way to make a show or a movie about making shows and movies is to focus on the people involved in it, but The Life and Films of Ersan Kuneri doesn’t do that, instead focusing on the word “movies” in that title to the obvious detriment of everything else. Its structure finds a few minutes of setup that turn into huge chunks of the movie Ersan is creating; episodes disappear inside each production, and there is rarely, if ever, a theme or point running through them to justify spending so much time there. And because the show itself is largely a slapstick comedy, all of the films Ersan stars in feel exactly the same, though their focus is diversity and range.

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Because of this archaically cartoonish approach, it can be hard to tell what’s terrible and what’s game. Every character sends out some sort of archetype, but they never turn parody off, so there’s no chance for a real humanity to creep in. The jokes are also endless and mostly fall completely flat, which sadly makes anyone stretch them beyond the point of reason.

The idea behind The Life and Films of Ersan Kuneri isn’t inherently terrible, but a distinction had to be made between the show and the movies within it. That’s never really achieved, from production design to tone to performance. There’s often so little distinction that in some places I wasn’t sure exactly where one ended and the other began and needed the outfits and props to do some of that heavy lifting to me. Although, admittedly, that could be because I was barely paying attention after a few deeply identical episodes convinced me there was nothing else to see here.

Without a straight man or a competent execution halfway, The life and films of Ersan Kuneri is a determined dud that one suspects most casual viewers won’t bother to finish. And they better not if you ask me.

You can stream The Life and Films of Ersan Kuneri exclusively on Netflix.

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