‘Don’t Leave’ Ending Explained: Why Did Defne Leave Semih?

Dont Leave

Welcome to the Ending Explained for Don’t Leave, a new romance film arriving on Netflix this weekend. The film goes against all conventions and tries to do something different in the genre. This is a movie that is full of melancholy, and it is also ready to throw the audience off by using structural devices that make the story a bit difficult to follow, but worth it for those who pay attention. The character work is excellent, and it is great to visit Istanbul and its people once in a while.

The film is directed by Ozan Açikitan and stars Burak Deniz, Dilan Çiçek Deniz, and Ceyda Düvenci. The film tells the story of Semih, a young artist living in Istanbul, and his search for answers after his girlfriend Defne leaves him one day. Semih will go on a journey of self-discovery, where he will find out some things about himself and his past that he has chosen to ignore for too long. The film really feels like a breath of fresh air within the context of Netflix offerings, which are inconsistent at best.

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The following paragraphs contain spoilers for Don’t Leave. Read at your own risk.

Why Did Defne Leave Semih?

The film begins by introducing us to our main character and the main point of view, Semih. The entire film is seen through his eyes, and because of it some things are covered by his own bias. Semih is a street artist working in Istanbul. However, he can live out of his street art and finds a job at an advertising agency where he works as an artist. The job seems to be stable and doesn’t bring much inspiration to him or the rest of his co-workers, but it is steady money, so he takes it.

The movie jumps back and forth between the past and the present to tell its story. So, after getting introduced to Semih, we jump to the past where we see the beginning of the relationship with a beautiful girl called Defne. Semih makes eye contact with her in a bar, and then he approaches her, stealing a kiss from her, which of course generates anger in Defne who throws her glass at him. It is clear that Semih’s personality is erratic. His friends describe him as weird, and yet, a very good person.

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Semih and Defne continue to frequent the bar, and they start a relationship. Semih even makes a large mural of her on the streets of Istanbul. He is definitely in love, and so he asks her, after having been dating for a while, to move with him. He thinks that this is the next big step for their relationship and that they should just do it. She accepts and they move together. As we jump back to the present, we see that Defne is gone. She has taken all her things and has left him.

Semih’s friends and family are all in shock at the event, and no one really knows why Defne left. Not even Semih has any idea about it. He starts focusing more on his work but fails. It is clear that Semih has fallen into a deep depression, and he is just waiting for news on Defne. Why did she leave? Semih asks himself what he could have done to make her leave. It was something he said? Something he did? He has no idea. We jump back to the past and the answers start coming.

Does Defne And Semih Go Back Together?

We see the core situation of the relationship between Defne and Semih. They clearly love each other very much, but Defne is over-jealous to a point that seems almost freaky. She also has other expectations for her life. She likes to work and make money, while Semih is more of a free spirit. He likes to have a job, but he also needs time to work on his own art and follow his own interests. Semih is also a womanizer. Women feel attracted to them and flirt back. He never cheats on Defne, but the attitude is enough to make her mad.

Semih also fails to be there for Defne at her grandmother’s funeral. Defne admits she never understood why her grandmother liked Semih so much. He doesn’t go and makes the excuse that he needs to be at work. It is revealed that Semih has a problem with funerals and goodbyes are general. He says he is not good at such things. A disappointed Defne gets angry when he decides to accompany her on a travel trip she has. There, Semih meets another woman, who would become his friend for life.

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In the present, Semih has decided that he will move to another department. He burns all his pictures with Defne in the same way she deleted all of his pictures from her Instagram profile. They both go along with all the classic breakup moments that occur in every relationship. None of them is okay; even if we don’t see her, we can imagine Defne is doing the same thing. She comes back to the apartment to give something to Semih and there we see the couple finally talking in the present.

Defne reveals that the reason she left was because Semih wasn’t saying the right things, and she felt like she was wasting time with him. When she left, she thought he would call her, but he never did. He actually did it, but he was so drunk that he doesn’t even remember doing it. He didn’t fight for her. Later, it is revealed that the reason Semih has problems saying goodbye or telling someone to stay is that his father left him and his family when they were kids.

The movie ends as we see a montage where Semih is getting better. His life work is improving, and he is becoming more open with his friends. He decides to adopt a dog he saw on the streets, and many months later he crosses paths with Defne once again. They have a pleasant conversation, but they leave on their own paths.

  • Nelson Acosta

    Nelson Acosta is a professional writer and translator based in Caracas, Venezuela. He is also a member of the Caracas Circle of Cinematographic Critics, a film critic association in Venezuela that aims to preserve and educate audiences on worldwide and Venezuelan cinema. He studi...