The drama “A Regular Woman” depicts the true story of Hatun Surucu — known to her friends as Aynur — a German woman of Turkish-Kurdish descent who was shot and killed by her brother in 2005. (The brother who pulled the trigger pleaded guilty in German courts, while two different brothers were recently acquitted of the crime, a so-called honor killing that made international news and inspired an earlier 2011 film.)
This version, an exhausting exercise in condescension, jarringly begins with news footage from the actual murder scene. With a dead body on the ground, the fictionalized voice-over begins: Aynur (Almila Bagriacik) narrates from beyond the grave as actors portray real events, from Aynur’s marriage to a cousin in Istanbul to her choice to leave the family home dominated by her brothers in favor of the life, clothes and partners of her choosing. It ends with the trial that saw her brothers prosecuted for murder.
To show how Aynur’s break from her family led to her death, the movie jumps between reality and fiction, using home-video footage of the real Aynur that was taken by her friends. But the German-American director Sherry Hormann fails to create a fictional inner life that can live up to the vivacious woman in these images. The video footage shows spontaneous, unimportant moments, yet in the dramatized version, Hormann has a stultifying tendency to zero in on images that satisfy a Western interpretation of feminism. In one particularly egregious scene, Aynur questions why she must wear a head covering. Electronic music plays as she removes her hijab in slow motion. Her hair billows around her shoulders, purportedly liberated.
The movie often fixates on appearances in this manner; it lingers on shots of women in hijabs who stare judgmentally as she boards the bus and pauses for freeze frames of Aynur embracing her white German boyfriend. These images add a layer of cultural contempt to an already violent story, producing a film that feels exploitative, not enlightened.
A Regular Woman
Not rated. In Turkish and German, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. Watch through virtual cinemas.