‘Don’t Leave’ Ending, Explained: What Finally Happens Between Defne And Semih?


Heartbreaks have been the subject of uncountable films; “Don’t Leave” is another take on what happens when your partner leaves you all of a sudden. Thousands of post-breakup motivational quotes exist on the internet because breakups are tough to deal with. When Defne left Semih, he wondered what he had done wrong that led to the end of their relationship. Needless to say, Semih’s life was a mess after the breakup. His phone was broken, his job was at stake, and his rent was due. He found it difficult to focus on anything and kept going back to seek comfort from the fond memories. His eyes would light up whenever he heard anything related to Defne. He wanted to know how she was and what she was thinking, only to realize how little he now knew about the person he once loved.

Spoilers Ahead

Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?

Semih met Defne at a bar; he found her attractive and forcefully kissed her. Naturally, she was offended by his gesture, but they eventually became friends. Semih was a talented artist; he would express himself on the walls of the streets, and he introduced Defne to his work. Semih complained about how his job was not satisfying, while Defne believed he should be grateful for having a job. He wanted to live his life as an artist without worrying about the practical aspects of life, and in Defne, he found that balance. Initially, Defne enjoyed Semih’s impulsive behavior. But eventually, his approach to life seemed too difficult to deal with for her. They had been together for six years, and in those years, their individual approaches to life had changed. She enjoyed being particular and keeping things in order, while he did not care much about it. Semih’s flirtatious nature irritated Defne, especially when she caught him staring at other women. His random friendship with a woman he met at a bar disturbed Defne to the extent that she pushed him out of her hotel room. Whereas Semih never really gave those glances a thought. He was simply bored at the bar and wanted to share a conversation with the woman seated next to him. He knew that he loved Defne and that no other woman would ever take her place. Defne’s insecurity stemmed from her past. She once disclosed that she had an unhappy past that led to severe depression, but with Semih, she never had those depressive thoughts. She was happy with him, and maybe it was this happiness and contentment that she was extremely scared to lose. She was jealous because she feared losing the man who helped her get over her disturbing thoughts. But then why did she leave Semih?

Semih’s disorderly life irritated her. He would often forget about the basic commitments he made to her. What was interesting at first turned into a hassle later on. She was quite disturbed when he refused to go along with her to her grandmother’s funeral. Her grandmother loved him, yet he was not present with her to pay his last respect. Semih struggled to persuade her that he preferred not to attend such ceremonies, but as an adult and a partner, his logic made little sense. Later on, when Defne’s uncle offered the couple the chance to move to Germany, Semih rejected the offer. Since he could not speak the language and did not wish to leave Istanbul, shifting did not make any sense to him. But at the same time, he did not mind if Defne wanted to live in Hannover. But it was not an easy decision for Defne; she wanted to move there, but then she would have to maintain a long-distance relationship with Semih. Defne was shocked by how easily Semih could reject the plan and ask Defne to move there alone if she wanted to. She concluded that for Semih, staying in Istanbul was more important than staying with her. Defne wondered if he cared enough about their relationship and her opinion. When Semih thought about their past conversations, he realized what might have gone wrong, or at least what more he could have done to make their relationship work. Does Defne get back together with Semih in the end? How did the breakup affect Semih’s life? And did he get over her?

‘Don’t Leave’ Ending Explained: How Did The Breakup Affect Semih’s Life?

Most of Semih’s days were spent thinking about the past. He tried to gather information on Defne from their common friends. He wondered if he, alone, was suffering the consequences of a bad breakup. Just like most young adults, Semih dyed his hair as a first step in becoming a new person after their separation. He decided to move out of the house he shared with Defne. Now that she had taken her things away, staying in the house was suffocating for Semih. While finding an apartment, Semih made out with the finder, though he stopped himself midway. After the breakup, he tried twice to get physically close to women, but for some reason or another, he could not do it.

Semih was a disappointment at work. He could barely concentrate on the project he was paid in advance for. His boss, Ceyda, was hopeful about Semih; she believed that he would deliver sooner or later, but she too started to doubt his talent. Semih’s obsession with Defne made it difficult for him to deliver work on time. He would often distract himself by looking at Defne’s social media. The fact that she had deleted all their pictures made it all the more difficult for Semih. He soon got to know that Defne was leaving Istanbul and relocating to Germany. Semih had to accept that Defne was truly moving on and that their relationship was long over. The morning after attending a rave party, Defne came to his house to return his phone. Semih ran after Defne and asked her if she was indeed moving to Germany and if she already had someone in her life. Defne was not ready to answer his questions; she no longer owed it to him. She reminded him that they had met the previous night at the rave party, but he barely remembered it. What bothered Defne was how Semih had only talked about himself the previous night. He asked her what his mistake was and whether he was right or wrong, but he never asked how she was doing or what she wanted from the relationship. This was precisely why Defne left Semih. Her needs and opinions were not valued in their relationship. Even after breaking up, he did not care to ask her how she was holding up. She believed it was his arrogance that caused a distance between them.

Later on, through his conversation with his mother, we get to know why Semih is the way he is. His father had abruptly abandoned them. His father wrote a letter to him and his mother before leaving. Semih held on to a mug left by his father; he always wondered why he left it for him. His mother made him realize that there was no profound meaning behind leaving the mug; she believed he simply forgot to take it. Semih concluded that he was a lot like his father. He was arrogant, just like him. Maybe because his father left him all of a sudden, he found it difficult to ask or even expect the people he loved to stay. After talking to his mother, Semih realized that everyone had a different way of coping with heartbreak; his mother managed to live through it, and he, too, would eventually learn to deal with it. He dedicated a street wall to his heartbreak; he pasted every picture he drew during that time. It was his way of letting go of the dark times. His love for Defne did not die; it would perhaps always be there, just like the painting he made of her, but it was time for him to move past it, to rebuild himself, and not get consumed by the could-have-been.

He delivered the project he was assigned on time, and it lived up to Ceyda’s expectations. By showing her trust in him, Ceyda helped Semih not give up on his job and take responsibility for what he had committed to. One of the most important lessons he learned through the breakup was to take responsibility. He had always struggled with it and chose to stay away from it as much as he could. He realized how important it was to be responsible and reliable in life. He went ahead and adopted a dog. He knew how much the dog relied on him and how he had to be responsible for their needs at all times. Maybe he, too, needed someone who would trust him completely and love him unconditionally. After a few months, he unexpectedly ran into Defne. She had come to Istanbul for vacation. She commented on his new tattoo and said she would have described him as a firework with the darkness within. Semih simply replied that it always feels good to remember. They now only had memories of each other, and even though their relationship had ended, the memories continued to be comforting, and they still remembered each other from the time they had spent together.

“Don’t Leave” primarily focuses on Semih’s journey after the breakup. Even though his life seemed to have fallen apart, he managed to bring the pieces together in the end and make something meaningful out of it. He realized how he needed to change as a person and how he could not be as unreliable as his father. He had to think about the people around him instead of only thinking about his interests. While dealing with the heartbreak was tough, he learned valuable lessons in life that he might not have realized otherwise.

“Don’t Leave” is a 2022 Drama Romance film directed by Ozan Aciktan.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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