Monthly Archives: January 2020

Turkish screenwriting profile: Ateşböceği (Firefly)

taxi during the golden hour Istanbul

The golden hour in Istanbul, with a taxi at right. Photo credit: Yns plt, Unsplash.

O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

Ateşböceği (sounds like ah-tesh-bo-gee), known in English as “Firefly” (and not to be confused with the American sci-fi series with Nathan Fillion) is a marvelously entertaining 2017 Turkish series that I recently finished. Bariş Buka (Seçkin Özdemir) is a rich, successful, and handsome divorce lawyer, rather jaded by life and feeling that everything is predictable.

(WARNING: SPOILERS)

One day, he’s representing the wife in a divorce case and a vengeful husband shows him a security cam video which is later sent to Bariş’s relatives. The video shows a daytime hit-and-run accident featuring a silver-colored classic car hitting a young girl, but the driver can’t be seen in the video.

The problem: The car’s license plate is tied to Bariş, although he was not driving the vehicle. The husband threatens to splash the video all over the place, but Bariş defies him and later finds a way to neutralize the husband. Bariş and his driver-recently-promoted-to-chief-investigator Teo then launch an investigation.

The accident victim is a little girl about 8 or 9 years old, named Çiçek (chee-check, whose name means “Flower” in English) Egilmez. She lives with her dad, grandmother, and two young aunts — Arzu and Asli (Nilay Deniz). Asli’s nickname is “Firefly” because she’s a live wire type of character — hates injustice and not afraid to speak up for or defend herself.

Çiçek survives the accident but is in the hospital and a wheelchair for months, and Asli is determined to find the guilty party. She acquires a list of the license plates of silver classic cars in Istanbul, and it’s only a matter of time before she will track down the car’s true owner. Asli is smart enough for college but chose to drive a taxi instead to help support her family after the death of her father.

Teo finds out about the family and has the idea to offer Asli a job. That solves two problems for Bariş — finding a discreet replacement driver and putting Asli’s investigation on hold until Teo and Bariş figure out who the driver is. Asli initially refuses the offer but then relents and accepts the job.

She and Bariş (who I like to call “Mr. Serious”) clash quite a bit. He’s not quite sure what to make of independent, outspoken Nazli.

A cousin of Bariş, Hakan, was the last one known to take the car out. But he doesn’t remember what happened — some girl slipped him a roofie in a club in order to steal his wallet and keys. He’s a nitwit — dumber than a bag of hammers. His aunt sarcastically tells him to get a brain transplant and Hakan agrees to it, provided he gets a male brain because he’s male.

As time goes by, things get more and more complicated. Teo falls for Asli’s best friend, Gül, and Bariş falls for Asli. Meanwhile, Hakan falls for villainess Ilayda. The struggle to tell the truth gets more and more difficult for Teo and Bariş (you’ll see when you watch it).

Meanwhile, Hakan starts to remember what really happened that morning…..

This series has some highly comic moments, some gasp-out-loud moments, great sets and costumes. Also, special kudos to the performance of Umur Yigit Vanli (Hakan), who convincingly turns from dimwit to a more mature version of himself who’s really quite sweet and a true gentleman by the end of the series.

Most of this series with English subtitles can be found on YouTube. One episode is not translated (Grrrr….) but it was relatively easy to figure out what was going on from the actors’ excellent performances. The whole series is definitely worth a look.

Check out this clip of Asli’s playful side and the standard Mona Lisa-style smile of Bariş when Asli meets, offends, and then charms Baris’s tailor, Muzaffer. The actor playing the tailor (I couldn’t track down his name) does a great job with this small part — a classic lesson in good acting.

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