‘About Dry Grasses’ Review

In the world of cinema, there are artists who immerse themselves in the depths of human emotions, while others observe life from a detached standpoint. Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s latest masterpiece, “About Dry Grasses,” explores the weariness of hope as it delves into the question of whether the world can change and if we can change with it.

As we embark on this cinematic journey, we witness the struggles of the protagonist, Samet, and his search for meaning amidst a backdrop of dry grasses and wintry landscapes.

The Artist’s Dilemma: Empathy vs. Detachment

Samet, played brilliantly by Deniz Celiloglu, is an artist of the second kind – detached and disillusioned. As a public school art teacher in East Anatolia, he finds the locals to be a waste of his time and longs for a transfer to Istanbul. His only solace comes in the form of Sevim, a bright-eyed eighth grader who sees the world through innocent eyes. Yet, even in their interactions, we witness Samet’s detachment as he maintains a cool distance, never crossing any boundaries.

Accusations and Deepening Despair

Suddenly, Samet’s life takes a dark turn when he and his colleague Kenan, portrayed by Musab Ekici, are accused of inappropriate contact with students.

This accusation rocks Samet’s world, leaving him mortified and angry. As the story unfolds, Ceylan’s masterful direction captures Samet’s deepening despair amidst wintry landscapes, where the eternal whiteness contrasts sharply with the individual figures and faces.

The Power of Portraiture

As an artist, Samet sees the potential for great images in his surroundings. Ceylan skillfully injects stunning still portraits into the film, capturing the essence of the local people.

However, these portraits, though visually captivating, merely serve as compositions rather than a genuine interest in understanding the lives of others. Samet’s focus remains on himself and his superiority, using his irritations with people to reaffirm his belief that his life holds more meaning than theirs.

A Meeting of Minds: Samet and Nuray

In an unexpected turn of events, Samet meets Nuray, portrayed by Merve Dizdar, on a blind date. Initially disinterested due to her missing leg, Samet’s perspective shifts when Nuray strikes a chord with his friend Kenan.

This encounter forces Samet to question his own biases and confront his own detachment from the world. Through Nuray’s activism and passion, he is confronted with the choice of engaging in the world or retreating further into his self-constructed bubble.

A Reflection on Engagement and Change

Ceylan’s “About Dry Grasses” serves as a self-reflective exploration of what it means to be engaged in the world. Can detachment be a form of self-protection or is it simply a manifestation of superiority or cowardice? The film poses these questions, not offering clear answers but instead presenting two paths before us – a choice we must make for ourselves.

A Cinematic Epic in Miniature

Clocking in at nearly three and a half hours, “About Dry Grasses” may seem daunting. However, the film’s duration is necessary to fully immerse ourselves in the texture of the characters’ inner lives. Ceylan’s deliberate pacing and his ability to capture the stillness of a scene invite us to contemplate the weariness of hope and the complexities of human existence. The landscape, with its wintry backdrop, serves as a metaphor for the unchanging nature of the world, leaving us to question whether true change is possible.


1. Is “About Dry Grasses” a fast-paced film?

No, “About Dry Grasses” is not a fast-paced film. Its deliberate pacing allows for introspection and contemplation of the characters’ inner lives.

2. Does the film offer clear answers to the questions it poses?

No, the film deliberately leaves the questions it poses open-ended, provoking the audience to reflect and draw their own conclusions.

3. Is “About Dry Grasses” accessible to non-Turkish audiences?

Yes, the film is accessible to non-Turkish audiences as it features subtitles to facilitate understanding and immersion in the story.