Netflixable? A Turkish Actress Figures Out How to “Live” a role in the body-switch Dramedy, “Oh Belinda”

“Oh Belinda” is a dark and sometimes comic Turkish body-switch comedy, 97 minutes of giving a spoiled, indulgent actress a taste of the “real life” of a character she’s not-very-committed to playing.

It’s from a genre Hollywood revisits, occasionally, but kind of wore out in the ’80s, and not a lot of the laughs land. But this Around the World with Neflix offering is the raciest, most sexual Turkish film I’ve seen, and has a Westernized brazenness that one almost never sees in films from the Middle East.

It doesn’t begin with “Belinda,” the shampoo that Istanbul actress Dilari is loathe to promote, but with a big, somewhat underchoreographed production number. She’s sashaying her way down the streets and quays of the city to the theater where she’s the star.

Neslihan Atagül plays a thoroughly modern single woman of the arts, a famous beauty with a swank apartment, a new hit show and a regular spot at the bar where all the city’s actors hang out after the curtain drops. And Dilari’s carrying on a very public and sexual affair with her hunky fellow actor Serkan (Serkan Çayoglu).

But this lifestyle comes at a cost. Her overhead is such that she has to take commercials, even though she bitches about it to her agent. This new shampoo spot promises to be an agonizing day on set, a lot of it in a shower as a bell-pepper-stuffing housewife and mother who “washes away her day” with this new product.

Her on-set “kids” are child actors, with all that entails. Her “husband” (Necip Memili) is an attention-starved, unprofessional dope. Only her old pal Timo (Tim Ceyfi) the director can get her through the ordeal.

“BE Handan,” he begs of Dilari, hoping she’ll get into the housewife character. “Don’t just PRETEND.”

During one soapy take, that’s precisely what happens. She opens her eyes, and the shower isn’t on a set. It’s in a crowded apartment.

“Her” kids are playing and fighting loudly. And that fake-mustached boor on the set is now her “real” husband, almost as confused as she is about what has happened. His confusion is in the “What is WRONG with you, Handan?” vein.

The script spends a ridiculous amount of time with our confused thespian in denial over all this, but almost understandably so. Dilari was “Don’t you KNOW who I am?” famous, lording over her public and her acting colleagues. Now, they don’t know her. How could this be?

Serkan doesn’t recognize her when she taxis over to his place, and refuses to pay the cabbie. Her actor “friends” and rival (Beril Pozam has the “All About Eve” role) don’t admit they’re playing a prank on her.

Nothing she does can “end” this little object lesson is reality, humility and the grubby goings-on of “humanity.” Handan is forever fending off her amorous and increasingly upset husband, and apparently having an affair with her crooked bank-manager boss.

She keeps insisting who she really is so loudly that she finally winds up in a mental hospital, where the film’s lone funny line is delivered by a fellow lunatic, the only person to believe her alternate life tale.


That’s funny in dubbed English, or in Turkish with subtitles.

The movie itself is more miss or hit, and in that order. Atagül overwhelms some of the script’s shortcomings with a loud, sexy and assertive performance.

The touchstone film for this tale might have been the already-remade “Overboard,” which produced laughs by having the fake-husband “in” on the misplaced heroine’s plight. But “Oh Belinda” is never that light, taking more of a “Christmas Carol/It’s a Wonderful Life” tone, without the gravitas to carry that off.

It’s still pretty far “out there” by Turkish cinema standards. And some of the set pieces, including a dance in the rain finale, have spark.

Call this one a swing-and-a-miss and “Better luck next time,” because I like the idea and the casting and the sexy tone, just not what they did with those elements.

Rating: TV-MA, sex, profanity, smoking

Cast: Neslihan Atagül, Serkan Çayoglu, Tim Ceyfi, Beril Pozam and Necip Memili.

Credits: Directed by Deniz Yorulmazer, scripted by Hakan Bonomo. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:3

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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2 Responses to Netflixable? A Turkish Actress Figures Out How to “Live” a role in the body-switch Dramedy, “Oh Belinda”

  1. ozziecookie says:

    The movie family Man with Nicolas Cage and Tia Leoni was so great in the 1990s or 2000. It did a wonderful job with the same premise.

    • Roger Moore says:

      I didn’t make that connection. That one wasn’t great either, if I’m remembering and Metacritic’s review rating are correct.

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