When We Leave
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Umay flees from her abusive husband in Istanbul and returns to her family in Berlin with her young son. She hopes to find a better life there, but instead she encounters intense conflict with her family's old world traditions. When she overhears them secretly plotting to send her son back to Turkey, Umay is left with no choice but to flee again. As she struggles to build a future, she refuses to accept her family's rejection, which ends up making matters much worse than she ever imagined.
"Astonishing…a powerful film" -- Matthew Hays, THE MONTREAL MIRROR
"Gripping and sincere" -- A. O. Scott, THE NEW YORK TIMES
"The film grips from the first scene and never lets go" -- Jeff Heinrich, THE GAZETTE
Best Actress (Sibel Kekilli); Best Narrative Feature (World Narrative Competition) -- Tribeca Film Festival
Winner- Prix Lux, Best European Film of the Year -- European Parliament
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"When We Leave" (terrible movie title; originally titled in German "Die Fremde" or "The Alien"; originally releases in 2010; 119 min.) brings the story of a Turlish married woman getting out of a domestic abusive relationship. She takes her young son and moves back to Germany, where the rest of her family is (Turkish immigrants in Berlin). You might think that seeking help from her family would be a good move, but you might be wrong. Because she is considered to "belong" to her husband, no matter what, she brings dishonor on her own family. Things get from bat to worse: she is beaten, harrassed, threatened, etc. Not to mention that her son is also deemed to "belong" to his father, and so she needs to protect him from being kidnapped BY HER OWN PARENTS AND SIBLINGS. With family like that, who needs enemies? I won't spoil the outcome of how it plays out, but I'm not spilling any secrets that this is not your typical Hollywood fare, where you just know there will be a happy ending. Doom and gloom persist throughout.
This is one of the best movies that I have seen this year, and I've seen quite a few. I can't help but feel so sorry for millions of women whose happiness apparently is utterly irrelevant, and where the family's "honor" takes precedence over anything and everything, This movie won a bunch of awards in 2010-11, although amazingly it was not nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film. Lead actress Sibel Kekilli is simply outstanding (shw won the German equivalent of the Oscar for this performance). By all means, do not miss a chance to see this movie! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
In awarding the film Best Narrative Feature Award, and Best Actress Award for Sibel Kekilli, the Tribeca Film Festival Narrative Jury said of the film: "WHEN WE LEAVE examines one woman's struggle for personal freedom. It is a riveting and heartbreaking story of a woman trapped in an abusive relationship, who must not only free herself from that marriage, but also the cultural prejudices and judgments that would keep her there. Writer/director Feo Aladag built the nuances of her film over a six year period. She rehearsed her actors for seven months. She immersed herself in every detail of a culture that is revealed to us in remarkable detail. The result is a film that balances complex social issues with honest human yearnings. Through the brutality, WHEN WE LEAVE is also a story of tenderness, the struggle for compassion, the inexorable pull of family and the need to love and be loved." German-born Umay (Sibel Kekilli) flees her oppressive marriage in Istanbul, taking her young son Cem (Nizam Schiller) with her. She hopes to find a better life with her family in Berlin, but her unexpected arrival creates intense conflict. Her family is trapped in their conventions, torn between their love for her and the traditional values of their community. Ultimately they decide to return Cem to his father in Turkey. To keep her son, Umay is forced to move again. She finds the inner strength to build a new life for herself and Cem, but her need for her family's love drives her to a series of ill-fated attempts at reconciliation. What Umay doesn't realize is just how deep the wounds have gone and how dangerous her struggle for self-determination has become.
Despite a fine cast of actors (Derya Alabora as Halime (Umay's mother), Settar Tanriögen as Kader (Umay's father), Tamer Yigit as Mehmet (Umay's older brother), Serhad Can as Acar (Umay's younger brother), Almila Bagriacik as Rana (Umay's sister) and the brilliant Florian Lukas as Stipe (Umay's new boyfriend in Berlin) the movie's pace is so very slow that it cries for editing. Just when we feel that enough is enough there is an abrupt and tragic final ending that throws a new light on the film's significance. In Turkish and German with English subtitles. Grady Harp, June 13
That wedding scene, snot in her mouth and pain in her eyes; just UGH!
`When We Leave' tells the story of a young Turkish woman named Umay who leaves her abusive husband and flees home with her young son to seek refuge with her parents. Her parents, stained by the critical eye of society and their demeaning eye, condemn their daughter's choice and threaten to send her son back to his father. She defies their efforts and seeks an independent life on her own in Germany. Feeling disgraced, her family disowns her and seeks alternate methods to reestablish their honor within the community, to devastating effect.
Watching film's dealing with common issues so foreign to our own lives here in the States can be frustrating. About halfway through I wanted to personally assault half of Umay's family because, to me, their actions were so extreme and so unfair. That comes from seeing a culture outside of our own scope of understanding. This is not only common in foreign lands, but it is understood by many.
This film does not condone it at all, in fact it highly condemns it.
Sibel Kekilli is flawless. The way she quietly festers inside her own head as to her predicament and the pain it is causing her and her young son is sincere and earnest and believable. When she does breakdown (the aforementioned wedding scene for one) she does so in such a bleeding way; her soul crushing outwardly to expose so much internalized torment. She pleads, seeking a reestablished relationship with the family she loves so much. Sadly, the eyes of others mean more to them than their daughters very safety. Derya Alabora is also quite convincing as Umay's soft spoken mother, and Settar Tanriogen is crushingly honest as her `hard to love' father.
My only quibble is the seemingly unnecessary love interest angle taken when Umay meets Stipe. I understand the contrast between her previous relationship and the new one, but it felt underdeveloped and really it wasn't needed at all.
Still, this film is a MUST SEE!
When a woman shames the family, there is no healing from that, but to resort to dramatic and/or a horrific outcome. The father cannot overcome his shame and has said that she is the reason he is a failure as a father. We watch the strength and courage of Umay as she deals with her family, who in turn, are abusive to her and have cast her aside. She makes every attempt to reach out to her mother and father. Her mother feels for her, but is torn between Umay and her own father.
Umay soon becomes involved with a man who would want to marry her so she will not be a shame to the family.
As I said, this is well-done, rather predictable. There were times when I was puzzled with the director's actions, namely, when the Umay is being physically abused by her brother, her son just watches, doesn't run to his mother to try to stop, just watches. I believe a child would do anything to stop someone from hurting his mother.
Then, in the streets, there are rather stark incidences, and I am surprised that no one in the car or on the street sees confrontations, a gun?
If you want to see a remarkable, and very memorable film about honor killing, try the very disturbing film The Stoning of Soraya M. ..... Rizzo