Marry Me: everyone’s spouse
by Alfonso Rivera
- The Valladolid International Film Festival is world-premiering a comedy directed by Belgium’s Kadir Balci, who gracefully depicts a clash of different cultures, personalities and ethnic groups
Within the realms of drama, comedy and even horror, there is a subgenre that, to quote the title of a film by Robert Altman, we could call “A Wedding”: to give some concrete examples, in the first case we could (more or less) highlight the brilliant final chapter of the Spanish-Argentinian co-production Wild Tales [+see also:
film profile], in the second instance the no-holds-barred 3 Many Weddings [+see also:
interview: Javier Ruiz Caldera
film profile], and in the third category the blood-splattered REC 3 [+see also:
film profile]. Now, in the competitive Meeting Point section (which screens first and second works that are noteworthy because of their narrative or theme) of the 59th Valladolid International Film Festival, Kadir Balci’s Marry Me (Trouw met mij!) [+see also:
film profile] (read more) is being presented as a world premiere. The movie is a sophomore effort – which benefitted from backing from the MEDIA programme – by a filmmaker who is in the habit of tackling intercultural conflict, as he demonstrated with TurQuaze in 2010.
As is the case in all of the movies mentioned above, most of Marry Me unfolds, appropriately, during the celebration of the wedding that is suggested by the title: the joining in matrimony of Sibel (a Turkish woman with a strong personality, who is getting married for the second time – played by newcomer Sirin Zahed) and Jurgen (a Flemish man with a rather reserved personality, thanks to his strict upbringing, whose boots are filled by Dries De Sutter). The film will unleash a clash between their two families, with their respective cultural and traditional backgrounds being diametrically opposed to each other. Because whenever a person gets hitched, they are also marrying the relatives of their other half…
And so, the bride’s aggressive older brother will become a shining example of the insufferable brother-in-law, whom the plot establishes as the greatest adversary of the up-to-now peaceable lead character. But they will not be the only ones to square up to each other, in a more or less civilised fashion, during the wedding breakfast: the mothers-in-law will argue about whether there is any pork in the food or not, the ghosts of old flames will materialise in quite a striking fashion, and the issue of whether or not the groom is circumcised will almost become a matter of state importance; it is precisely this anecdote that gives rise to some of the most enjoyable moments in this comedy with a friendly feel to it, which is shot mostly with a handheld camera (the movie even incorporates home-video footage shot by the bride’s younger brother, who wants to study film and has been preparing a surprise to liven up the wedding breakfast), and is packed with sequences involving dancing, revelry and joy.
Balci, in conjunction with his screenwriter – novelist and film buff Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem (Oxygen [+see also:
film profile] and Moscow, Belgium [+see also:
film profile]) – never exaggerates things and fills the movie with a positively festive tone, although the final scene leaves the viewer with a somewhat worrying aftertaste. In this way, the film is a welcome experience for the watcher and will surely be rewarded by audiences at the festivals it is competing at. This is because it becomes extremely easy to identify with the characters (many of whom are played by non-professional actors) in a movie that reminds us of the tremendous power that each person’s family has over them – including being capable of criticising you when you kiss your fella on the lips in public... even after you have already uttered, “I do!”
(Translated from Spanish)
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