Istanbul (1985) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • While traveling through Belgium, an American named Martin befriends a waiter named Willy when he saves Willy from a fight with a customer. They get drunk together and Martin invites Willy to come to Istanbul with him since he needs to be there next week for "business". Willy agrees and they begin hitchhiking.

    A woman picks them up and brings them to a hotel. Martin becomes upset claiming that he can't sleep in hotels because "they smell". The woman asks, "Who said anything about sleeping?"

    Cut to the woman and Willy having sex while Martin listens with great discomfort from the bathroom. He begins rocking back and forth moaning in obvious physical pain.

    After the woman has left and paid for the hotel room, Willy and Martin go to a street festival. They pass a marching man with a drum who they have passed on the road before. During the festival, after jumping onstage and grabbing a guitar, Martin sings "Movin' With the Wind" for the enthusiastic crowd. Afterwards a self-claimed Airforce pilot offers to buy them a drink.

    While discussing Istanbul, Willy asks Martin what sort of business he has there. Martin harshly dismisses him. As Willy walks away, the Airforce Pilot implies to Martin that he is interested in fooling around with Willy. Martin lies and says that Willy would reciprocate. When the pilot approaches Willy, Willy hits him and a bar fight ensues.

    Martin and Willy hide out in an apartment and Martin suggests they play "Truth", where one of them asks a question and the other must tell the truth. Willy asks why Martin wants to go to Istanbul. Martin tells him that he killed someone in London and is going to Istanbul to see that person's family. While Martin is in the bathroom, Willy goes through his wallet and finds a newspaper clipping detailing the murder of a young girl in London.

    Willy and Martin are hitchhiking along the highway the next day. Again, they pass the marching man with the drum. A friendly, Belgian mechanic picks them up. He lets them stay with him at his junkyard. While they eat, he tells Willy about his wife. She and he had a child named Corinne but his wife ran off with an Italian and took Corinne with her. He wants his child back, but since his wife told the court that he hit her in front of the child, the courts won't allow him to his Corinne until after the divorce.

    Later, unable to speak Dutch, Martin asks Willy what the mechanic said. Willy tells him and suggests they offer to kidnap Corinne for a fee. Then they can use the money to get to Istanbul. The mechanic brings up this subject himself the next day and gives them traveling money. He will bring the rest when he meets them to collect his daughter.

    When Willy and Martin arrive in the mechanic's ex-wife's shop they see Corinne. They order food but ask for it to be wrapped up, promptly throwing it out after they leave.

    The marching man with the drum is stopped by a news crew who want to do a story about his road travels. They tell him it will air at 7 pm that evening.

    The next day Willy is having second thoughts about the kidnapping but Martin convinces him to go through with it. Martin attacks the mother, throwing her into a closet and barricading the door shut. Meanwhile, Willy runs upstairs and grabs a sleeping Corinne.

    The three of them hide out in a field. Martin entertains Corinne by singing "Heartbreak Hotel" to her. Willy notices how well-behaved she is and doesn't seem to be afraid of them.

    The mother is interviewed by the police and she described Willy and Martin's features.

    Willy and Martin hide out with Corinne in a cabin in the woods. Willy says he needs to leave but will be back in an hour. He goes to a pay phone to call the woman from the hotel to come pick them up.

    After he's gone, Martin and Corinne make faces at each other. They speak to each other in a made-up language, their faces inches away from each other.

    On the police scanner, a profile for Martin shows up. It details him as a murderer and child molester.

    Corinne is crying on the couch while Martin tries to console her. He is in his underwear. He asks if he hurt her and she continues to cry. In his frustration Martin begins to yell at her and slams himself into the furniture and walls.

    Willy arrives back at the cabin and hears crashing noises. When he sees Corinne crying on the couch and Martin in his underwear, he attacks Martin punching him into submission.

    The police arrive at the mechanics junk yard and ask him what he knows about his daughter's kidnapping. He says he only knows what was said in the radio.

    Martin cries on the floor and confesses that he doesn't seek the children out, they just come to him. Willy urges him to stay away from parks and buses, but Martin insists that no matter how hard he tries, he can't be "normal".

    The marching man is watching his story on the news when a newscaster announces the kidnapping of Corinne and shows the drawings of Willy and Martin. She urges anyone with information to call the police. The marching man gets up to go to the phone.

    Willy and Martin arrives with Corinne at the terminal to meet her father. The woman hotel waits in her car outside. Martin tells Willy about how beautiful Istanbul is and how friendly the people are. He talks about a wonderful fish restaurant that serves the best meals and promises Willy they will go there to celebrate. Willy asks Martin to finally tell him why he wants to go to Istanbul. Martin breaks down and confesses that Turkey has the most dirty, horrible prisons in the world, and he's going to turn himself in there because he deserves to suffer. Willy is horrified.

    Corinne's dad shows up to collect her and warns Willy and Martin that the police have followed him there. Unable to understand Belgian, Martin asks Willy what he said. Willy lies and tells Martin he has to go to the bathroom. He disappears just as the police arrive to arrest Martin.

    As he is being carried away, Corinne runs up to Martin and kisses him on the cheek. A broken Martin cries and struggles to break free but to no avail.

    Later, relaxing on a balcony with the woman from the hotel, Willy reads the paper. There's an article detailing Martin's arrest and his incarceration in a Belgian prison.

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