Friday, 1 March 2013

GFF 2013: Kuma

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 (Beg├╝m 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.

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