Qadin’s main character, Leyli, would have every right to laugh in the face of Wonder Woman and her so-called crime-fighting and heroics because world-saving is easy when you are a warrior princess and indestructible. What is not easy is being everything to everyone in your family and life, being an advisor, cleaner, mother, cook, wife, caretaker, driver, nurse, and daughter – day in and day out, and doing it all while smiling and forgetting that you are only human, made of flesh and blood, and imperfections.
As director, writer, producer and lead actor, perhaps mirroring the themes of her work, Tahmina Rafaella wears many hats. But, instead of Qadin smacking of megalomania and forced auteurism, her singular influence helps to give the film direction and purpose. There is no fat on Qadin. It never strays from its core values. Every scene, word and action serve to peel back the emotional layers of the lead and the contradictions in the world around her. For once, Rafaella wants someone, anyone to step into her character’s shoes and experience what she goes through.
One arresting moment can be found early on. In the scene, Leyli is in the middle of giving her son an impromptu English lesson when her mother calls in distress because her son, Leyli’s brother, has not called or brought over the groceries. What is telling is the mother’s complete and utter disregard for Leyli’s time – not once does she ask what her daughter is doing or if she is free. Adding to that, it soon becomes clear that she has an innate expectation that Leyli will always rush to her rescue, and when she inevitably does, because she always does, the mother barely acknowledges the sacrifice or thinks to thank her for it.
Tahmina Rafaella’s work speaks directly to the laughable contradictions at the heart of society and its relationship with woman, that expects them to be both forever present and invisible, strong and vulnerable. Yes, there is no winning. While Qadin would be entitled to be full of shouting, crying and raw emotion, like any good woman should do, it grins and bears the weight of all its frustrating truths. However, despite dealing with such universal themes, Qadin still manages to find and speak in its own unique voice – one of quiet, hidden defiance.
You can watch Qadin here