Sunday, 15 March 2009

The Edge of Heaven (2007)

I have seen earlier films from the director Fatih Akin which, while reasonably involving, did not prepare me for this masterly film. Although he is thought of as a Turkish director, he is actually German-born of Turkish parents, and his focus is on the experience of being caught between two cultures.

The story being told here is linked by three parent-child pairings and is played out in time shifts in Bremen, Hanover, and Istanbul. Ali is a horny old Turkish immigrant, whose German-born son is a university professor of German and part of a different world both intellectually and physically. Ali takes up with a Turkish-born sex worker who is supporting her daughter back home, with whom she has lost recent contact, under the myth that she is working in a shoe shop. The daughter in question is part of a Kurdish revolutionary group and has fled from the police to Germany where she meets and begins a lesbian relationship with a university student, daughter of a bohemian mother played by the great Hanna Schygulla.

There are two meaningful deaths amongst these six characters which I will not spell out with a spoiler warning, but these are clearly foretold in the first two (of three) chapter headings. The interesting thing about this film is not just how people deal with family and loss, but how chance and circumstance affect our lives. Although the characters all come close at times to discovering the underlying truths that connect them, they never fully realise how all six lives are linked together. They can only perservere and perhaps find forgiveness and/or salvation.
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