Directed by: Kadir Balci | 94 minutes | comedy | Actors: Mieke Bouve, Mattieu Sys, Sirin Zahed, Johan Knuts, Mieke Dobbels, Dries de Sutter, Burak Balci, Rudi Delhem, Joke Emmers, Sara Haeck, Bert Dobbelaere, Cecile Rigolle, Jean-Pierre Lauwers, Dilek Diltemiz, Marguerite Bruggeman, Ilkay Dogan, Anouk David, Gulsah Avci
The clash between cultures is a rewarding subject for films, especially for (romantic) comedies. The list is endless, but some well-known examples include the classic ‘In the Heat of the Night’ (1967) and more recently ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ from 2002 – a sequel to be released in 2016. A recent example from our own country is ‘Only neat people’ from 2012, after the book of the same name by Robert Vuijsje. At our southern neighbors, filmmaker Kadir Balci has (for the time being) built his entire oeuvre around the clash between cultures. As a Flemish Turk, Balci knows better than anyone what obstacles you can face when growing up between two cultures and applies many of his own experiences in his films. He made his debut in 2010 with ‘TurQuaze’, about the love between a Turkish boy and a Flemish girl and the question of whether or not they could make public the love they feel for each other. In his second film, ‘Trouw met mij’ (2014), the main characters simply skip that first uncomfortable phase; after barely four months, Jurgen (Dries de Sutter) and Sibel (Sirid Zahed) already decide to marry each other!
Jurgen and Sibel know each other from their work; they both teach at the same school and the butterflies quickly jump over. Their love is so strong that they soon want to have it sealed with a marriage. But that is not so easy to arrange. In both families, the proposed marriage is quite a trigger. Remarkably, the fathers (Rudi Delhem and Emin Mektepli) are positive about the relationship; they make a fair bit of effort to gain a white foot with their new in-laws. No, it is the mothers (Anouk David and Dilek Diltemiz) who have the most doubts and see bears on the road. But Sibel’s brother Kemal (Burak Balci, the director’s brother), is also not exactly enthusiastic about his sister’s new love, especially because a lot of old hurts him. His own relationship with a Flemish broke up and he seems unable to accept that his sister, about whom he takes a very protective attitude, is now going to marry a Fleming. His resentment runs so deep that he plans to thwart the marriage. Will his new Flemish brother-in-law be lured out of his tent…?
‘Trouw met mij’ is advertised as a comedy, but it is above all a drama. Compared to ‘TurQuaze’, however, this film is a lot lighter and lighter. Kadir Balci worked together with Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem, screenwriter of, among other things, the acclaimed ‘Aanrijd in Moscou’ from 2008. The story covers approximately 48 hours in the life of Jurgen and Sibel and mainly revolves around the preparations for the wedding. And that runs from the snacks that have to be served (‘carpaccio is not pork, is it?’) And the music that has to be played, to the question of whether Jurgen really had himself circumcised, or whether he and Sibel just say that to to silence her family. So it all remains pretty superficial and the issues that come up are all pretty obvious as well. You can see that Kemal is the one who will be the most obstinate. So it is not all original, but the fact that Balci shows almost exclusively unknown talent makes the whole feel fresh. Siri Zahed in particular – a hairdresser in daily life in a modest East Flemish municipality – knows how to surprise with an engaging, natural performance.
The story may be neatly colored within the lines and has few surprises, the ‘Trouw met mij’, based on the experiences of ‘fellow sufferers’, easily looks away and knows how to wrap its viewers with a good portion of Flemish-Turkish charm.