Kuma opens with a traditional Turkish wedding, but as events will subsequently underscore, appearances are deceiving. Though ostensibly marrying the young and handsome Hasan (Murathan Muslu), Ayse (Begüm Akkaya) is in fact a second wife (or ‘kuma’) for Hasan’s father, with the whole family proceeding to live under one roof in a flat in Vienna.
This opening is one of several instances in which director Umut
Dag conspires to create false readings, but the sleight of hand has
purpose, the script’s sly structure keeping secrets from the audience just
as the characters keep secrets from society. Unfortunately, the film
grows over-saturated with big dramatic themes: domestic abuse, cancer,
hidden homosexuality, even talk of honour killings. This surfeit of
plots and issues threatens to give this otherwise fascinatingly complex
family drama the air of a cheap soap opera, but it succeeds nonetheless
in part due to the strength of its performances, with Akkaya’s nuanced
blend of timidity and independence particularly memorable.