Film Reviews

Hükümet Kadın: The fictional search for water

5 people smiling in character.

The movie is available on Netflix right now. The movie is about a fictional isolated Turkish city in the late 1940’s first Turkish mayor. The movie is in Turkish and has subtitles available to watch the movie in English, French, Spanish, German, Cantonese and Russian. It was released in 2013 and just under 130 minutes long. In English, the name translates to Government Woman.

I searched for a true story that might have influenced this movie and there isn’t one. On IMDB, it notes that it’s a comedy made in 2013. Not a lot of things that I could find was about this movie beyond just watching it myself. It’s a quirky and comedic movie due to the lead always being in charge of the situation no matter how out there and goofy she is in it.

Screenshot of Xate looking over a wedding ceremony.

The plot is about a middle-aged woman named Xate who lives in a village going through a heatwave and a lot of political discussions about changing their water distribution in their rural village. After her husband died of a sudden car accident on a road trip, the council gives the position of power as mayor to Xate after a very quick and mediocre race. The one proposal she fights to have was a construction of a water tunnel. The council thought that they could boss her around but she showed them by subverting their expectations. She rounds up the women of her village to dig for water after the male construction team were lazily working. Throughout her run as mayor, she helps deliver a baby, gives the city workable electricity, clears the corruption in office and opens a school and new offices. Her motives are based on good intentions to complete the goals of her husband and her methods of ruling over the small village are based on being the dominant patriarch in her own large family of nine kids with grandchildren by being overbearing and nagging everyone.

The women are not really heard. The men are in charge of everything while the women must stay at home. The men sit around in carpeted rooms talking politics and their view with absolutely no women in sight. Xate’s counterpart, Farouk, is highly against having a woman mayor and tries to sabotage her political career. He believes it’s against the law. He also has a funny side story about the affair he’s having with the maid while married to an old crone who yells at him a lot.

The story has some elements to feminism. A woman taking charge and getting what she wants, her first days on the job she’s wearing a purple dress then the other women taking a shift to join her quest to dig a drainage pipe tunnel also wear a purple dress.

A lot of the more memorable skits of wacky situations are after the one hour mark which is where the story picks up.

The star of this film is a well-known theatre and film actor from Turkey, Demet Akbag. She has won 11 awards like best actress at the Ankara International Film Festival, Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, Pantene Golden Butterfly Awards and SIYAD Turkish Film Critics Association Award and 8 nominations. She has had a long career starting in the early 1980s with dramas but mostly comedies. She plays Xate. They dress her up to look older than she is. She is always presented as a fish out of water kind of person. She is seen visiting all of the townspeople, talking to all of the contractors and always putting her opinion on the table. It’s an enduring character when keeping in mind that she’s a recent widower now in charge of everything. A lot of the main character’s problems would have been preventable if she read what she was signing or in this case putting her thumbprints then passing it along to the next person to do. I guess that’s resolved in the sequel.

Screenshot of Xate at the water pipe construction site.

The film was written, directed and also starred Sermiyan Midyat. I guess he would be known for the movie Av Lav Yu (2011) which won him best director, actor and comedy at the Boston International Film Festival and Sadri Alişik Award in comedy. He has written 9 films and directed 6 films including this one. This was the film he wrote after Av Lav Yu and co-starred in as Farouk.

The set of the whole movie is formidable. The buildings and the water fountain that acts as a centrepiece of the whole movie look very detailed.  Furthermore, the field that the women are digging has this middle of nowhere look. This might of been filmed in Mardin, Turkey. I feel like it was already an existing city that the crew decorated with rugs and furniture.

Since this movie was only produced on Netflix a lot of earnings are private but I guess it did well. It did $14,000,000 for a small feature. There are barely any special effects in the whole film. The title sequence is basic After Effects but nothing distracting or out of touch. The music is usually upbeat and happy trumpeting.

I really like this film. It is funny, campy and very energetic. It was nice to see a comedy from a different part of the globe for me. The film heavily focuses on mid-century Turkish culture in a fictionalized way. The film is not crass with any way and if there was cursing it wasn’t that noticeable to me.

Trailer for Hükümet Kadın (Government Woman) 2013

Genre: Comedy
Year: 2013
Duration: 130 minutes

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Three out of five stars

All screenshots are from the film
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