›› Beyto ‹‹

a film by Gitta Gsell.

2020 | 98 mins | Switzerland.

having the freedom to be your sexual self.

Dave says:

Based upon the novel "Hochzeitsflug" by Yusuf Yesilöz and adapted for the screen by writer and director Gitta Gsell, the result is a vibrant work not so much on to thy ownself, being true; rather on having the freedom to be your sexual self.

For this is the story of Beyto (Burak Ates); a talented, if closeted young man of Turkish descent who when not learning English, is training for swimming gold; that is between helping out in the family run restaurant. Based in Switzerland, but with relations still raising sheep the traditional way in rural Turkey, expectations are high that Beyto will one day settle down with a nice Muslim girl. Yet Beyto doesn't see it that way; preferring instead the company of men and specifically his openly gay swimming coach Mike (Dimitri Stapfer). Only when the two are seen together at a Gay Pride march, alarm bells ring in the household, prompting a swift return to Turkey on the pretence of visiting his sick Grandmother, but in reality to marry Beyto off to his childhood sweetheart Seher (Ecem Aydin). Returning to Switzerland thereafter, a devastated Mike makes it clear that he's not going to be Beyto's "bit on the side," leaving three unhappy souls longing for love, yet all but trapped in an unforgiving love triangle, or should that be a marriage of inconvenience?

In short, this is a work that finds Gsell shining the cinematic spotlight on the contentious issue of arranged marriage, along the way poignantly juxtaposing the freedom of Western life, with traditional Turkish values; a clash of cultures that's strikingly highlighted by way of Beyto's return to a rural lifestyle that seemingly hasn't changed in a thousand years.

Yet and in as much as newcomer Ates excels in the title role, this is a film that's dominated by Beyto's loving, if intolerant parents and in particular by his mother, here vividly played by Beren Tuna; namely a woman who will do anything to avoid the public shame of having gay blood in the family, no matter how happy or unhappy the bride and groom to be, are. To that end, Aydin wonderfully comes into her own in the final act, with Stapfer having been handed the unsympathetic card of the acting pack; his character refusing to see the trap that ensnared his boyfriend and as a consequence, their very relationship.

Not without its flaws, including a somewhat contrived ending in which warring factions suddenly become the best of friends, for many however the highlight of this telling feature will be its all too brief Turkish element that achingly demonstrates the peer pressure that Beyto is under and the cultural traditions that he's expected to follow. For this is a man who longs to be with his male lover and yet equally does not wish to destroy his wife's happiness and very future, should the reality of their situation become known. All of which makes for a compelling testament on what it means to be gay and Muslim in today's society and in particular on those who are forced to comply with the demands of social conformity in deeply conservative, if not religious countries where to do otherwise, would bring dishonour to the family name. Frankly, need more be said?

›› available as part of the MATCHBOX FILMS catalogue: 13th December, 2021 / UK.
›› posted: Wednesday, 27th July, 2022.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› copyright © 2022 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com ‹‹
›› archive reference #2022022 ‹‹
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