The latest from award-winning Turkish master Yesim Ustaoglu (Journey to the Sun) is a gorgeous, expertly developed cross-generational dramedy. Three adult siblings—Nesrin, Güzin, and Mehmet—lead modern, neurotic, and preoccupied lives in Istanbul. But when their aging mother Nusret starts showing signs of dementia, the dysfunctional children must navigate a minefield of unresolved issues to care for her. They take the aging matriarch (90-year-old French actress Tsilla Chelton) away from her home on the Black Sea—for her own good, they think—but hectic Istanbul is the last place Nusret would like to be. In fact, her final wish is to be left alone in the mountains surrounding her home.
The unlikeliest candidate for the Nusret's final companion is her aloof and introspective grandson Murat. He mysteriously understands her desires, and in return she allows him to guide her back to her serene village, with its lush and breathtaking views. A tale primarily exploring modernity versus tradition, the need for stuff versus the need for nature, Pandora's Box is a thoughtful, perfectly paced addition to Ustaoglu's impressive repertoire of films. For her poignant, career-capping performance, Chelton was named best actress at the San Sebastián International Film Festival, where the film also won top prize.