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Central Asia

©GULNARA ABIKEEVA

REVIEW

Homewrecker

A psychological drama. The two brothers, Adil and Rustem, live together. The older brother brings home a girl named Elya. The friends of Adil, the younger brother, make sarcastic comments: "How do you share her between the two of you?" In reality both brothers feel more and more attached to her, and Elya cannot choose one of them. The relationship between the brothers disintegrates – either Adil goes to sleep in the photo laboratory of his friend or Rustem disappears. Finally, the three of them walk under the rain and convince one another to return home. The last shot – the two brothers stand in the window frame and the breathless body of Elya lies in the middle of the room.

The film Homewrecker starts with an original prologue: the two brothers go to hunt steppe pheasants. The older one asks: "Who did God love more – Adam or Eve?" The younger brother says: "Probably Eve." "Why?" "Because she had a harder life than Adam…" The sound of a gunshot. This seemingly insignificant conversation comes to mind at the finale of the film because this simple love story comes across as a metaphor for the relationship between men and women. The film compels its viewers to compare the gender behavioral models and the value systems in the West and the East.

It only seems that it is a casual love triangle. Two brothers are in love with the same girl and cannot decide who is going to stay with her. However, the melodramatic flavor is taken away by the fact that there is no ambiguity – they both know what to do, there is no fight, no hysteria, and no other nonsense.

The directing style of Amir Karakulov has always stood out by its lack of narrative structure. He thinks with visual images. For example, the scene when the younger brother Adil leaves home and goes to sleep over in a photo laboratory. His modest supper consists of a loaf of bread and a few onions. He eats the onions and his eyes start to tear. He covers his eyes with a black scarf. The red light of the photo laboratory, a slow jazz melody, his chewing mouth, tears on his cheeks, his eyes covered with the black scarf – all of these expresses the emotional state of the character in the style of the cruel poetry. Or another scene with a scarf. The three main characters come to the attraction of the wheel of observation and without a word decide who goes up and who stays down. Elya and Adil go on the wheel. When they reach the top, the wheel stops for a second and Elya drops her white scarf down. Rustem runs after it. Again, there is nothing complicated about the scene but how precisely the film director expressed his mood. After all, it is very hard to tell what is love. Most likely it is a series of inexpressible moods, when special electricity appears between people and everything becomes important – a touch of a hand, the scent of a scarf, a glance…

Andrey Plakhov, a Russian film critic, called the film Homewrecker the Kazakh version of Jules and Jim by François Truffaut. It is possible, but there is one significant difference: in the French film the woman decides to die, in the Kazakh film the men kill her – Rustem suffocates Elya with a pillow.

After all, the film is not about the relationship between a man and a woman, but rather about the relationship between the brothers. The title Homewrecker has the female gender in Russian and it means that she – Elya – wrecks the harmony of the brother’s home. 

The film Homewrecker reminds me of an old, Turkic legend. Once upon a time, enemies attacked a Kazakh aul. The forces were unequal and the villagers fled. A man and his wife rode on one horse and his brother on another. A horse could carry only two people. An arrow killed the brother’s horse. The man said to his wife: "Get down from my horse. My brother will ride with me because I will find myself another wife but I will never find myself another brother." This specific tale maybe not provided the premise of the film, but it brings the behavior model out in the open. In Turkic culture the blood connection – for example, between brothers – is more important than the marital one. These human values deviate from the European ones, in which the individual approach prevails. However, for Kazakhs the priority of blood relations is accepted from the earliest age and perpetuated by myths and tales into behavioral archetypes.

Western civilization comprehends itself as the culture of sin, repentance and redemption. Eastern civilization is the culture of shame. We can hypothesize that if a European film director made the film Homewrecker, he would have accentuated the murder scene. The crime would have been the main idea of the film.

In the film Homewrecker by Amir Karakulov, the act of murder is only the result of the circumstances. The most important thing is not the love affair but preservation of relationships between the brothers, "because I will find myself another wife but I will never find myself another brother." When the character of Jeanne Moreau dies in Jules and Jim, the world of relationships between the men evaporates. When Elya dies, the world of traditional values is restored. A strange logic? Maybe, but this is the world of the nomads. In another Turkic legend a woman chooses her brother over her child.

This paradoxical combination of western cinematic style and eastern worldview of the film director make the film Homewrecker so unique. One of the articles about the film at the Venice Film Festival in 1991 was titled "Asia: From Amir Karakulov to Nagis Oshim."

Homewrecker

USSR, 1991, Kazakhfilm Studio, 81 minutes, color

Written and Directed by: Amir Karakulov

Cinematographer: Dmitri Perednya

Cast: Dana Kairbekova, Adil Turkenbayev, Rustem Turkenbayev, Petr Korolkov, Natalia Dolmatova

 

Awards and Participation in Film Festivals

Award of FIPRESSI at the Moscow Film Festival, 1991

Honorary Diploma at the Venice Film Festival, 1991

Award at the Bastau Film Festival in Almaty, 1993

Screening at the Valencia Film Festival, 1992

Screening at the Stockholm Film Festival, 1992

Screening at the Goteberg Film Festival, 1992

Screening at the Trieste Film Festival, 2003


Gulnara Abikeeva, 2003

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