Drama films

Homeward review – a moving story of the modern day Crimean War | Drama films


MUstafa (Akhtem Seitablayev), a grizzled farmer with a profile as ruthless as an ax head, and his younger son Alim (Remzi Bilyalov) are united in grief. They are united by the death of Nazim, the son and older brother, but have little else in common, in this startling feature debut by Nariman Aliev. But as their journey from Kiev in Ukraine to their Crimean homeland unfolds, with Nazim’s enveloped and maturing body in the back of the car, blood ties and a shared culture under siege – these are Crimean Tatars – gradually overtake even the most deeply rooted in personal differences.

Aliyev is a Tatar himself, and all of his short films to date have dealt with his people and their heritage. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 shone the spotlight on the region, but the roots of this particular story are growing deeper and deeper. The father’s taciturn disapproval and his son’s intimidated silence translate into little opportunity for exposure in the sparse dialogue, but we come together enough to learn that Mustafa’s family, like nearly 200,000 other Tatars, were deported from Crimea just after the Second World. war. Once they were allowed to return, Mustafa made it his mission to carve out a place for his sons on earth. They would reject him beyond his comprehension.

The sleek framing strikingly uses a generous widescreen format, but the film’s main asset is a clever storyline that subtly reverses the roles of father and son as the journey progresses. Mustafa’s rigidity is mitigated by failing health and the realization that not all encounters are battles – a kite scene has stunning beauty and simplicity. And after a moment of complicity in which his father trains him on the best way to kill a man, Alim hardens as he takes responsibility for his lineage.


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