Umay is a young woman of Turkish descent, fighting for an independent and self-determined life in Germany against the resistance of her family. Her struggle initiates a dynamic, which results in a life-threatening situation.
Character actor Michael Shannon has been nominated for his second Oscar for his role in the 2016 thriller Nocturnal Animals. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some of the other characters he's played in the past.
German-born Umay flees her oppressive marriage in Istanbul, taking her young son Cem 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... Written by
Independent Artists Filmproduktion
Feo Aladag wrote and directed this movie after participating in Amnesty International's "Violence Against Women" campaign, and feeling like she had more to explore in the subject of honor killings. See more »
Within 30 seconds of the film's opening scene, we know we're entering a complex, and very real world.
Later we see Umay, our lead character, lying on a doctor's table and we immediately fall in love with her. There is something magical and loving about the way the camera moves around her. That's all the character development we need, but this heroine (and I mean this in a literal sense; Umay, to me, is a hero in the best sense of the word) continues to evolve and reveal amazing traits in a complicated situation that mere mortals would fold under.
This Turkish film is about familial bonds, deep and abiding love and human rights. It attempts to bridge the gap between traditional cultures and their inherent focus on family as one's primary means of survival, and post-industrial (Western) culture in which human rights and dignity are of paramount importance.
'When We Leave' reminds us westerners of what we sacrificed in the name of economic and political progress while illuminating what is now, to us, a little-understood truth: The "Old Days" weren't always "The Good old Days."
I cannot recommend this film highly enough. Sibel Kekilli's performance as Umay must be the finest role, male or female, of the entire year. And what a face! One could watch the entire film with no audible dialog and be transfixed throughout by this wonderful actor's countenance. Too bad she won't be considered for a Oscar!
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