by Elaine Hegwood Bowen
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Mommo “the bogeyman” was such a heartfelt, tear-jerker of a movie that I had to compose myself in order to write this review. Mommo is the story of a boy and his sister who live in Turkey and whose mother has died, but the father won’t take them into the home he now shares with his new wife and her children.
The film is really called Mommo the bogeyman, because the young girl believes that a bogeyman lives beyond the hole in the wall leading up to the roof of the home that the pair humbly shares with their grandfather. Mommo borrows its name from the make-believe horror character, a regional version of the bogeyman routinely invoked to intimidate young children.
Real-life cousins, Mehmet Bülbül and Elif Bülbül, play the young orphans named Ahmet and Ayse, who longs for the day when her father might take her into his new home. It was really hard and enjoyable to watch the two children eke out a living with their ailing, aged grandfather, Hasan. Ahmet takes such great care of his sibling that I sort of wished all young children had the compassion that Ahmet showed throughout this film, which has been called “An ambitious and successful moviemaking adventure” by Amy Nicholson of Boxoffice.com.
The threat that hangs over the head of the two children is the fact that since they are orphans they may be sent to a children’s home or orphanage. But the grandfather and father have other plans. The children go thru life, trying to blend in with other kids, as their father’s new son bullies them at every turn.
Ahmet visits a grocery owner who gives them free goodies and makes sure that the boy and girl have some semblance of a childhood. The two sleep on the roof of their meager home to take in the moonlit nights. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the pair will be separated, but neither of them anticipate what happens in the end; since they both think they may go to Germany to live with their aunt. The grandfather is not the villian, as he worries daily about their well-being but knows he can’t survive much longer as their primary caretaker.
Mommo is based on a real-life story that asks whether a boy of age 9 can be a big brother, a father, a mother and a luminary all at once. I answer astoundingly, emphatically, YES! Young Ahmet is superb in his role, and Ayse is just as brilliant.
Mommo is breathtaking in the scenery, the storyline, just the wholesome goodness of it all! Mommo is available on DVD from the Cinema Libre Studio. Visit www.cinemalibrestudio.com.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.
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