Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

The Edge of Heaven

Review by David Tredler

European cinema may have troubles fighting against Hollywood at the box-office, and frailties often emerge country by country. Still, rich, intelligent and powerful features can come from anywhere, be it Netherlands, Spain, France, Denmark, The U.K., Romania, or Germany. Germany is in pretty good shape lately, having brought us audacious movies such as Downfall, The Lives of Others or the lesser known And Along Come Tourists.

In 2004, Head On revealed a young German director who mixed his German and Turkish backgrounds to make a multicultural portrait of his nation, Fatih Akin. The Edge of Heaven is his latest film, exploring once again both his cultural roots, Germany and Turkey.

The film follows half a dozen characters, torn between the two countries: an old Turkish man living in Germany who takes a Turkish prostitute, Yeter, as his spouse; his son, Nejat, a college professor, who travels to Turkey in search of his roots, and of Yeter’s daughter: Ayten, a beautiful Turkish illegal immigrant who befriends Lotte, a German student who leaves for Turkey once her friend is sent back there.

All these characters travel and intersect between Bremen, Hamburg and Istanbul, and nothing happens exactly as you might expect. The density of the screenplay that comes with a film creating many characters of equal importance does not constitute a trap here, with Akin refusing to stay light on character development and avoiding clichéd abuse. The young filmmaker loves his characters. Once he sets his eyes on one of them, he puts he (or she) figuratively naked in front of the camera. Humanity is at the core of the film, questioning and exploring what makes us human beings, the profound emotions that make us who we are, the social injustices that unfortunately cement our nations. A deeply emotional journey, The Edge of Heaven excels in finding the right balance between the human story and the social observation of the world we live in.

After his Golden Bear for Head On, Fatih Akin won the Best Screenplay Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for The Edge of Heaven. There is little (if any) reason to wonder why. There is nothing phony in Akin’s writing. It all seems so natural, so fluid, that it becomes hard not to feel the impact of the film. By telling these stories of Germans and Turks, Akin achieved a very contemporary view of the world as it is today, the North and the South, the legal and the illegal, the rich and the poor, without forgetting to tell us a simple, beautiful story in the midst of it.

4 / 5 stars


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