A Family Affair

5.19.2008

By Dale Peck

In fact, Ayten has joined a violent if nebulously defined (pro-democracy, anti-E.U.?) revolutionary organization. After botching an assassination attempt, Ayten is spirited to Germany, where she immediately begins looking for her mother. Knowing Yeter is already dead, the viewer thinks this quest is doomed -- only to find out that Ayten is one of the sleeping students we'd seen during Nejat's lecture early in the film. The temporal and physical shift has the viewer hoping, perhaps sentimentally, that Ayten and Nejat will come together, symbolically healing the wounds of their ancestors. But Ayten turns out to be a lesbian (you were wondering why you were reading this review in Out, no?) and soon enough ends up with Lotte -- whose encroaching death, remember, has already been predicted.

We are now just shy of the movie's halfway mark.

On the one hand, this busy plot serves to counteract the single-camera, long-take flatness that turns so many independent films into dull, earnest treatises. But Akin's fast-moving, ever-tightening narrative also works to translate the subject of his movie from the sociological to the symbolic -- there's simply not enough time for a variety of 'fair' or 'balanced' points of view on issues as diverse and complex as sex and family and murder, emigration, revolution, justice. The primary appeal is to the emotions rather than the intellect; empathy (or its lack) will trump ethical judgment. This comes to be borne out in the story itself: After Lotte is duly murdered, her mother, Susanne, travels to Turkey in an attempt to help Ayten, who has been deported by German authorities and is now in a Turkish prison. Though Ayten's reckless disregard for Lotte's safety led to her death, Susanne feels it's more important to heal the rift between herself and her daughter's lover than allow a legal system to proffer its own version of justice.

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