We sometimes say words in rage and wish we had never said them. For Oray such an outburst of anger has dramatic consequences. In a phone message to his wife Burcu following an argument he repeats the word “talaq” three times, which in Islamic faith is a declaration of divorce. Oray has no intention of separating from his wife, whom he loves. But as practicing Muslim who tries to live a good life he obeys the verdict of the imam: Oray and Burcu have to separate for three months and then see. Oray leaves Hagen for the bigger Cologne, where he soon becomes an engaged and well-liked member of the Muslim community.
In his award winning debut director Mehmet Akif Büyükatalay tells the story of Oray’s dilemma between following his faith and living an earthly life with an almost documentary eye. He has us follow Oray as he forms new relationships among Muslim men around a mosque in Cologne and becomes part of network of mutual care and friendship, but also causes conflicts. Büyükatalay occasionally reminds us of images of the jihadist Muslim just to undercut them. He maintains an easy flow and naturalness to the film, to which newcomer Zejhun Demirov in his much praised performance as Oray brings warmth and intensity.
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Germany 2019, colour, 100mins. German, Turkish, Romani with English subtitles.
Written and directed by Mehmet Akif Büyükatalay. With Zejhun Demirov, Deniz Orta, Cem Goktas, Mikael Bajrami, Ferhat Keskin, Faris Yuzbasioglu, Kais Setti, Firat Baris Ar, Sahin Eryilmaz, Ramon Machtolf