A missed opportunity,
This review is from: Mixed Kebab [DVD] (DVD)
I wanted to give this film five stars, so it was pushing an open door before I turned it on. It was mainly the subject matter which intrigued me. I like films exploring outsiders, intergenerational ethnic dramas and of course the ultimate outsider; the gay man from a conservative culture trying to battle his family, roots and a modern lifestyle. This film was some attempt to address these non main-stream issues. Unfortunately it didn't quite hit the mark. Some of the same issues were addressed in Hamam (Turkish/Italian) and particularly well in Sasha (Balkan/German).
The film comes with an 18 rating which is nonsense. There is a little mild nudity perhaps and no sex scenes - nothing you wouldn't see on day time TV anyway. There is some graphic violence but that is nothing more than you would encounter on an evening soap. Maybe the film company wanted the 18 cert to boost sales. Either way it isn't warranted. Because the film is to be marketed in the Middle East it is assumed by the reviewer here that the love scenes were merely superficial (more implied than shown) in order not to offend potential viewers and their values. I would have thought that merely watching the film in the first place would have implied that they had no intention of being offended.
The storyline is good. Modern Belgian man from traditional Turkish stock is manipulated into marrying a cousin from some backwater in Turkey. They supposedly know nothing of his leanings although the mother suspects but would ignore it as long as he married and produced children. The father sees his oldest son as an extension of himself and the person to carry on the family values. The ironic thing is that both parents were born in Europe, not Turkey, but still closely identify with the Motherland as it were. They became more Turkish than the Turks - very similar to the Irish in the US embracing everything they believed to be `Irish' no matter how cliched.
The second son is the centre of the sub plot although you could be forgiven if you believed it was the other way round. Furkan represents all the bad sides of ghettoization and displacement. He was born in Belgium but sees himself as an outsider and even has no feelings for his Turkish identity opting to join an Islamic Fundamentalist mosque when relations with his father deteriorate too far. For those of us who know nothing of the sense of displacement North African and Middle Eastern emigrants the story in a story is done quite well - even if the acting is a bit strained. I'm assuming some of the radicals are inexperienced actors or not actors at all. Personally I think this subplot could have been the subject of a film in itself and may have taken too much from the developing relationship between Bram and Kevin. Kevin, the young Belgian man seems a bit out of his depth and his acting in the Hamam scene shows this. I couldn't see much of a spark between the two of them anyway.
As contrasted with Sasha, there is little culture in this film. It is just basic suburban living with little to lift the spirit - even suburbanites are not cultural vacuums. There is little music in it and a more judicious use of selected Turkish pieces I found would have heightened the sense of drama or tenderness. The music was saved for the violence. The director isn't Turkish of course so there may be some gaps there because of that. Also I couldn't see why the blandness of the Belgian city was replicated in the blandness of the Turkish town. We were told by Kevin how beautiful Turkey was but there is practically no scenery, an empty hotel of dubious quality and the people leave a lot to be desired yet any superficial visitor to the country would know that Turkey has some of the most dramatic coastlines in the world. None of it was used.
There is no humour in it either - I don't know if that is the Belgian side coming out! Even a few light hearted scenes or even an odd character would have lightened the load a bit, but nothing. I don't know how a relationship like this could survive without humour as they are doomed to failure by all around them but Kevin isn't presented as a developed character and we get the impression that there is no background there, no hobbies or interests. And no fun either.
It is a film worth watching because of its uniqueness. Films covering these topics are few and far between but I feel an opportunity was lost here. The Turks have a long history of film production so there is no excuse and it is a pity that a European director had to try fill in the gap. I would recommend watching it but don't get too excited nor pay too much.
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Initial post: 15 Aug 2015 16:27:26 BDT
Piste Legend says:
I suspect the 18 certificate is due to the 'fantasy' violent scene where the radicalised brother goes for Kevin. A scene I found quite shocking and horrific. Frankly I feel that scene is superfluous and without it the movie would have probably been classified 15.
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