A determined Turkish mother confronts the authorities in Rabiye Kurnaz Vs. George W. BushAndreas Dresen’s drama that takes a light-hearted approach to a moving true story.
Dresen’s first Berlin Film Festival competition film since 2015 As we dreamed, it stars comic actress Meltem Kaptan as Rabiye Kurnaz. She is a cheerful and effervescent woman living in Germany, whose adult son, Murat, is unexpectedly imprisoned during his travels and sent to Guantanamo. Convinced of Murat’s innocence, Rabiye bulldozes her way into the offices of a local human rights lawyer, Bernhard Docke (Alexander Scheer), who agrees to take on the case.
The longer Docke investigates, the more appalled they are at the situation, but even with the press on their side, it’s a long and stressful journey to potential justice.
As Dresen and screenwriter Laila Stieler address these tensions in a few emotional scenes, they take a broadly airy approach, emphasizing Rabiye’s optimism, strength and humor, though perhaps they fall too far behind. often on maternal stereotypes.
There’s also a fish-out-of-water comedy when the pair travel to Washington, as Rabiye is confused by language, politics, and perhaps most importantly coffee. Cultural stereotypes abound, but they’re affectionate, and Rabiye’s one-liners seem to fit the character. “The Germans are smart but slow…” she says. “Do you know the saying ‘start like a Turk but end like a German’?”
Performances are enjoyable: Kaptan is a friendly track with lots of Erin Brockovich-style horns, while Scheer provides a patient comedic foil as the mild-mannered, caring Docke. The other members of the family are drawn with fairly broad brushstrokes, and Murat’s own experience is mostly left to the imagination, hovering like a horror story in the back of our minds as it does. for Rabiye.
There are some weird editing decisions, but the amazing real-life twists keep the momentum going. And it’s hard not to be moved by this portrait of a woman who would stop at nothing to rescue her son. Yes Harold and Kumar escape from Guantanamo Bay was an unlikely comedy on the subject, making it an unlikely treat for the Guantanamo crowds.