Like the Costa Rican film, The Awakening of the Ants, Commitment (Baglilik Asli) is about a woman trying to balance motherhood with her career. But this woman is different. Asli (Kubra Kip) lives an upper-middle class life. Before giving birth, she was a bank manager. She is tired of staying at home and wants to return to work. Her employers approve her return, but punish her for taking maternity leave by downgrading her to customer service representative. But who will take care of her adorable baby? Her husband, an engineer, is busy. Her own mother abandoned her at an early age and her mother-in-law is not acceptable. Through a gardener, she finds a young woman, Gulnihal (Ece Yüksel). Gulnihal has a baby of her own. Her husband is away in the army, so her mother-in-law takes care of Gulnihal’s baby while Gulnihal takes care of Asli’s baby. Gulnihal grew up in a village. Unlike Asli, she knows how to cook, how to clean house, how to make yogurt and how to tenderly care for an infant.
Asli is silently jealous of Gulnihal’s skills and secretly installed cameras around her condo to observe the young woman while she herself is at work. In something of a genre-bender, Gulnihal turns out to be scrupulously honest and a wonderful caretaker. Asli gets rid of the cameras and gradually allows herself to bond with Gulnihal. One day Asli returns from work to find her baby and Gulnihal missing. It turns out that there has been an emergency regarding Gulnihal’s husband. Asli finds her baby being well-taken care of by Gulnihal’s family, and Asli gets to see how the other half lives…and loves.
I saw Commitment at the Asian World Film Festival in Culver City. Writer-director Semih Kaplanoğlu answered questions after the screening, as did Kubra Kip and others. Several audience members were amazed that a man could make such an emotionally realistic film about women. But Kaplanoğlu has made a career of portraying characters not like himself. His most famous film, Honey (Bal), which won the best film award at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival, is about a little boy whose father goes missing while harvesting honey.