“We’re a family. Whatever happens to one of us, happens to all of us”.
This is our through line for Güni Koçak’s Green Lanes, a short film co-directed with Marie Drisch that traces the effects of a traumatic past on a North London Turkish family.
Despite being two years into their relationship, Yusuf (Güni Koçak) takes his girlfriend, Fiona (Elizabeth Tan) for the first time to meet his parents Cem (Nej Adamson) and Emine (Fisun Burgess).
It is clear from the beginning that Yusuf would rather be anywhere else. A university drop-out, he immediately draws the focus of his father’s scorn when he hears about Fiona’s promising career as a lawyer. Emine, meanwhile, brings a stabilising, maternal warmth, bringing out the family photo albums to show her guest.
Up until this point, the role-play is all a little familiar and scenes a little clunky, but the contents of the photo album provide the film’s pivotal moment, unveiling an unspoken suffering that haunts each member of the family differently, and threatens to drive Yusuf and Fiona apart. Each character becomes more three-dimensional hereon-in as we gather more information about their past.
There are some heavy blows dealt in the film’s 14 minute run-time, with some either delivered too quickly to hit home, or flirting with melodrama in some of the dialogue. That said, when Yusuf’s secret is revealed (while the script leaves it a little difficult to piece together), Koçak keeps it grounded and character-driven, rather than indulging in a ‘wow, didn’t see that coming’ moment.
A standout would be Nej Adamson’s performance. Lurking in the shadows of his conflicting states of stoicism and vulnerability, his portrayal of grief is the most nuanced, while Elizabeth Tan’s performance as the girlfriend lost in the maze of her boyfriend’s denial is authentic and relatable.
While a little laboured in parts, Green Lanes succeeds in reminding us that no grief is the same. It underlines the dangers of suffering in silence, whilst testifying to the power of speaking out and the resilience of family and faith.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Güni Koçak, Marie Drisch
STARS: Güni Koçak, Elizabeth Tan, Nej Adamson, Fisun Burgess, Marie Drisch
RUNTIME: 14 mins