‘Hükümet Kadın 2': First lady gives it a second go
Turkey's famous BKM Productions is once again releasing its annual box office hit comedy with the second installment of the successful comedy “Hükümet Kadın” (Government Mom).
The sequel is again written and directed by actor Sermiyan Midyat, who was inspired by his childhood memories of the southeastern town of Midyat and the first female mayor in the country.
Audience darling Demet Akbağ is back as Xate, a southeastern Anatolian matriarch who has a wicked sense of humor, a huge heart and innate wisdom, which make her one of the most likable and relatable female characters in Turkish cinema.
Despite the high production standards, an incredible cast and intelligent dialogue, the second movie in the series does not deliver the same freshness and laughs that made the first film such a unique comedy.
The film's politics is in the right place: While it criticizes and makes fun of the viciousness of politics on a microcosmic scale and at the same time tries to promote an all-encompassing democracy of coexistence and freedom, the message remains a tad too didactic and, at 105 minutes, the story runs a bit too long for its own good.
Nevertheless, the film is surely to be an audience attraction for those who are familiar with the BKM trademark.
The year is 1949, and once again we are in the sweltering summer of Midyat, where the townsmen continue their rain prayers for a drop of water. Xate's husband, Aziz Veysel (Ercan Kesal, who seems to be in almost every significant Turkish movie and short film this year), is the amicable mayor and although he tries his best for the town, he still hasn't been able to bring in electricity, water and a state-run school for the town's children. Though the town is shown to us as the epitome of a cute provinciality, the political atmosphere of the country is not so bright -- Veysel is put in jail on the grounds that he's been reading some “dangerous” Turkish literature such as the works of great novelist Sabahattin Ali.
With the municipal elections looming, Xate has to find a way to get her husband re-elected. He will be running against the town's weasel Faruk (Sermiyan Midyat himself), a man who has a thirst for power and who also happens to be the son of the governor. The election campaigns kick in as Xate and Faruk compete for votes and along the way, they will find themselves in funny situations as they struggle to earn the support of the people.
Faruk is not a bad guy per se, but in this particular film he is portrayed as a politician who is rather similar to the prevalent political powers in contemporary Turkey -- as opposed to focusing on such elements as education and democracy, his main concern is satisfying his lust for power without caring about listening to the people. He believes that giving out free food and goods is sufficient to silence the unhappy masses. Xate, on the other hand, despite her dominant nature, which she intentionally tries to suppress, is fixated on building a school for the town so that the children can receive a proper education.
As an important side note, she and her family are of Kurdish origin (like a large number of people of the town in the film) and one day, when visiting the makeshift school building, she realizes that the Turkish teacher is exchanging a couple of Kurdish sentences with the children -- a minor ode to the hope for a country with cultural tolerance.
Thanks to its ensemble cast and especially the talent of Akbağ, an actress who can wear a comical and contemplative expression at the same time, “Hükümet Kadın 2” is an amusing and mostly thoughtful piece of work that has higher ambitions than gaining cheap laughs. The structure of the narrative could have been laid out better and the editing could have been much tighter, but it's still a worthy watch if you need to lift your spirits.
‘Hükümet Kadın 2' (Government Mom 2)
Directed by: Sermiyan Midyat
Cast: Demet Akbağ, Sermiyan Midyat, Mahir İpek, Burcu Gönder