A Regular Woman Review! JM Says, something “is lost in translation.”

Authenticity absolutely makes all the difference, but it appears to have been lost in translation with “A Regular Woman.” Either that or I need a better Turkish translator and brush up on my German.

Based on the devastating and despicable, honor killing of Hatun Aynur Sürücü in 2005, “A Regular Woman” dramatizes the incredulous incident that shocked Germany and the world. Coming from a strict Sunni Muslim family, Hatun “Aynur” Sürücü (Almila Bagriacik) is the oldest daughter and is one of nine siblings. After being forced to leave school and marry a cousin at 16, Aynur steadily struggles with being a dutiful daughter and honor tradition with rigid religious rules. Despite pleas and pressures from her mother (Meral Perin), Aynur escapes her abusive husband with her child and temporarily returns to her overcrowded family home in Berlin. She soon seeks refuge in a home with other underage mothers and starts rebelling against the male dominated patriarchy which has oppressed her for so long. However, harassment soon starts creeping into her world and threats are always lurking around the corner.
Coming from a Western perspective, it’s difficult digesting the startling subject matter, especially when you know the end result. The atrocious abuse Aynur endures constantly challenges your morals and loyalty about family. Sadly, harassment hounds her everywhere she goes, but Almila Bagriacik beautifully captures that anguish and frustration fanatically. Completely unfamiliar with her prior work, Almila Bagriacik is the best reason to watching the film.

“A Regular Woman” weaves together an interesting interpretation of honor killings and the tragic circumstances of Aynur’s slaying. Technically speaking, “A Regular Woman” humanizes the lead with suspenseful cinematography and creative color techniques by cinematographer Judith Kaufmann with fantastic framing. This is equally enriched by editor Bettina Böhler’s beautiful incorporation of real-life photos and flurry of sequences addressing the treatment of Muslim culture.

Unfortunately, “A Regular Woman” was directed by a German, Sherry Hormann, and definitely doesn’t pack the same punch had it been directed by someone like a Marjanne Satrapi (“Persepolis”), Gurinder Chadha (“Bend It Like Beckham”) or Asghar Farhadi (“A Separation”) with an exciting empathetic energy. There’s not enough entertainment to justify the directing decision. Managing multiculturalism and addressing agendas in clashing cultures certainly  seems like strong subject matter. Sadly, “A Regular Woman” doesn’t make it more accessible without coming across arrogant and the supporting cast constantly stumbles making it difficult to properly enjoy.

Free-spirits being attacked in ultra-conservative communities is nothing new, but the way the subject matter is approached lacks the actual authenticity needed to overcome it’s glaring shortcomings. Absolutely, “A Regular Woman” feels frustratingly artificial lacking suitable substance for a more meaningful movie. There were missed opportunities not exploring the distinct dynamics of Kurdish, Suni and the close-knit communities of Muslims overall, especially in Germany. It’s a well-meant movie, but falls short properly recounting and recognizing an important story. Add in an excruciating ending that’s deeply depressing, you wind up with something that should’ve been retitled “A Regular Movie.”

2 ½ out of 4 stars

Premiering in virtual cinema beginning June 26, 2020

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