Directed by Ozan Açiktan, ‘Don’t Leave’ or ‘Kal’ is a Turkish romance drama film that tells the story of the gradual disintegration of a relationship. Semih (Burak Deniz) and Defne (Dilan Çiçek Denizb) are two young people living in Istanbul. At the start of the film, Defne leaves without giving any inclination of her plans to Semih, catching him by surprise. Semih spends most of the movie trying to figure out what happened. Because of this, the narrative shifts back and forth between the present and past — to the time when Semih and Defne were still together. If you are wondering how things fell apart between them and why Defne ultimately decided to leave, we got you covered. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Why Did Defne Leave?
‘Don’t Leave’ begins with Semih realizing that his calls aren’t getting through to Defne and throwing his phone at the wall in frustration. He goes to the nightclub Dante, a place that he hasn’t been for the past three years and reacquaints himself with his friends while trying to drown his sorrows in alcohol. Suddenly, the scene shifts, and we are taken back to the very night when Semih met Defne for the first time. Although he didn’t leave a good impression on her after kissing her out of nowhere, a relationship slowly began to develop between the two.
At the offset of it, the audience can clearly glean how completely opposite Defne and Semih are of each other. Semih is the “carpe diem” personified — brimming with restlessness and energy, prone to make big gestures to prove his love, but at the same time, he is volatile, unpredictable, and even can come off as insensible. This is especially the case with what happened after the death of Defne’s grandmother. According to Defne, the woman adored Semih, but he refused to attend her funeral, claiming that he wasn’t good with crying people. However, immediately after this, he consoled a friend struggling at work. The said friend pointed out the irony of the entire thing, but Semih dismissed it.
It seems that to make up for his absence at Defne’s grandmother’s funeral, Semih decided to accompany her on her work trip, something that his girlfriend definitely didn’t want, and she understandably became angry with him. In contrast to Semih, Defne is restrained, reserved, and reclusive. His grand gestures quickly got on her nerves even if they seemed wonderful at the start of the relationship.
For all his restlessness, Semih is content with his life in Istanbul. As an artist, he has the skillset to be successful anywhere in the world, but he has no intention of leaving Turkey. It became a big point of contention between him and Defne. Her uncle asked her to come to Hanover in Germany and work for him. When Defne brought up the idea to Semih, he told her that if she wanted to leave, she should leave, he wasn’t going anywhere. And yet, even after saying this, he is surprised when he finds out she is moving to Germany.
Before her departure, the two of them meet one last time when she comes to drop his phone off at his friend’s home while he is there. An emotional Semih follows Defne outside and asks her why she left him. Apparently, he asked her same question the night before but forgot about it because he was too drunk. This prompts Defne to reiterate what she told him before. She left him because their relationship had become all about him, making her feel that she didn’t even exist. Defne ended the relationship because she realized she wasn’t being herself while she was with Semih.