Netflix’s new Turkish thriller – Fatma – surrounds the titular character (Burcu Biricik), a reserved and nervous cleaner who’s searching desperately for her husband, Zafer. He was released from prison months ago after doing time for assault and no one has seen him since. Fatma’s search efforts are met with much hostility as we learn her spouse owed money and angered a lot of dangerous men. It becomes clear that she has spent her life in the company of many sinister people and seems to be nearing her breaking point. When an opportunity arises for her to find her beloved, it ends in her shooting a gangster. This sets in motion a succession of dark twists and turns as the protagonist finally finds something she is good at.
As much as this series wants to be jam-packed with action, intrigue and tension, it is far too convoluted whilst simultaneously being quite bleak for the most part. The first two episodes waste too much time on edited shots of the lead drifting into trances or becoming overwhelmed by the world she is entangled within. The leads to the audience becoming impatient as it feels as though there are promises of excitement and action, but it never comes. All this is driven by an insufferably weak main character who, yes, is meant to be a shrinking violet – but there has to be a limit. Her lack of any sort of energy or personality makes it difficult for the audience to empathise with her and – ultimately – root for her.
The series claims two stars for its alternative plot line, putting a working-class woman at the forefront and making her a form of vigilante. It’s a narrative any modern woman would love, but the pitiful development of Fatma the character is the show’s ultimate downfall. Yes, women can be shy, nervous and introverted, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for not bothering to offer any personality. It just feels like lazy writing. Fatma gets lost in the action that surrounds her and loses all sense of being an individual, let alone the protagonist. Maybe she comes more into her own after episode two, but that is leaving it much too late as a complex and twisted plot demands a tangible lead to drive it.
Fatma is a potentially interesting story but with a drab and bland execution – and a meek and under-explored central character.
Fatma is released on Netflix on 27th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for Fatma here: