Copilot (Die Frau des Piloten)
The third feature film from director Anne Zohra Berrached, Copilot tells the story of Asli (Canan Kir) and Saeed (Roger Azar), two young people who fall in love at first sight while studying in Germany. The film follows the trajectory of their relationship over five years, from the romance of a marriage in secret to more turbulent later years, culminating in an ultimate decision at the turn of the century.
While alarm bells may start to ring at the premise, which has Saeed’s gradual radicalisation as a core narrative element, the piece is very well researched and sensitive, and avoids diving into complex modern day socio-political waters. While the politics of the era obviously do play into the narrative, this is a tragic romance story with the pre-9/11 political climate as a backdrop, rather than a film about 9/11. Critically, the audience does not see Saeed’s radicalisation directly – rather, it is something to be inferred from Asli’s perspective and through the couple’s interactions with one another.
Berrached perfectly represents the slow but certain breakdown of Asli and Saeed’s relationship, from the idealism of young love to the bitter reality of the spark dying out, as well as the horror of being trapped in a turbulent and abusive relationship. Cinematic languages and genres are mixed and played with in the writing and cinematography, the camerawork changing with the years to create a narrative experience that is constantly engaging in new and fascinating ways.
This film is focused on the trajectory of a single relationship, so the chemistry and dynamics between its two protagonists is an essential part of making the piece work. It’s a tough task, but both Kir and Azar more than rise to it, delivering fantastic and naturalistic performances of their multi-faceted and messy characters. The excellent chemistry between the two actors is perhaps displayed best in the many improvisational moments, which add layers of tenderness and tragedy to the story.
Copilot is a deeply compelling character study, thoroughly exploring themes like love and loss with a compassionate and careful hand. It is sure to be a challenging work in its attempts to give pathos to more extremist parts of humanity, but it also serves as a reminder that the capacity for great inhumanity lies within every human, just as the capacity for great love does.
Copilot (Die Frau des Piloten) is released in select cinemas on 10th September 2021.
Watch the trailer for Copilot (Die Frau des Piloten) here: