Cultural differences and the kindness of strangers.
Director’s Maryna Gorbach and Mehmet Bahadir Er‘s LOVE ME Sev Beni (2013) is a short-lived, superficial romance between two people whom, if not for their unique set of circumstances, would have made for a more poignant affair. The unfortunate lovers are culturally mismatched–the woman from the Ukraine, the man from Turkey; and are technically obligated to a significant other–the woman currently in a non-committal affair with a married man; the man is set to marry in an arranged marriage, and have yet seen or held a casual conversation with his bride to be. Their story is neither romantic nor is it a rousing affair that is the result of a circumstantial resolve for finding a lost elder parent on the subway.
Sasha (Viktoria Spesivtseva) is a beautiful Ukrainian woman involved in a relationship with a married man. Cemal (Ushan Cakir) is a handsome Turkish man engaged in an arranged marriage. He unwillingly decides to go on a business-related meet-up in Kiev with his uncle and cousin. The trip is nothing more than an erotic sex tourism trip to the Ukraine, his uncle thought would take Cemal’s mind off his upcoming nuptials. It is at a local hotspot where the two meet. Initially, Sasha was looking for a wealthy foreigner to become pregnant. Though both are in obligated to other people, they form a brief connection and, unfortunately, isn’t as romantic as audiences would have hoped.
The more impressive cinematic aspect of the film is watching as Cemal and Sasha navigate throughout the Ukraine’s winter cityscape and is the more interesting aspect of Sev Beni. The snowy backdrop of the Ukrainian state provided Sasha and Cemal to be in proximity of one another, and afforded opportune moments for intense gazes and eventual awkward silences. All throughout the film is an underlying sense that these two would defy all odds and make a permanent connection. However, the tale insists that it is unlikely that a romance between a Turkish man and Ukrainian woman should be its foremost story. A story overshadowed by what the characters should and shouldn’t do. On one occasion, the couple made a romantic connection–when Cemal took Sasha to a Turkish eatery for cultural food sampling. Though neither spoke the other’s language, we are reminded culturally, that food can bring people together on different levels.
It is disappointing that the relationship between these two fails to progress beyond cultural obligations. It would have made for a more elaborate feature and more importantly, prove that regardless of cultural norms, that true love indeed is worth fighting for, unreservedly.
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