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THE EDGE OF HEAVEN

Director: FATIH AKIN

GERMANY-TURKEY • 2007 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 120 MIN


AFTER THE GRUNGY ROMANTICISM OF THE BRUISING HEAD-ON, TURKISH-GERMAN FILM-MAKER FATIH AKIN RETURNS WITH THIS THOUGHTFUL BUT NO LESS IMPRESSIVE STUDY OF INDIVIDUALS CAUGHT IN THE CONTRADICTIONS BETWEEN THEIR TWO CULTURES.
The impeccably plotted drama involves Nejat (Baki Davrat), who’s of Turkish extraction and a professor of German literature at Hamburg University, and his elderly father Ali (Tuncel Kurtiz, something of a celluloid legend in Turkey), who lives alone in nearby Bremen and has recently taken up with Turkish hooker Yeter (Nursel Kose). Events take a tragic turn which prompts the academic to travel to Turkey to seek out the latter’s estranged daughter Ayten (Nurgul Yesilçay). The story then diverts to trace Ayten’s fortunes as her political involvement ironically sends her fleeing to Germany, where her fate soon entwines with an idealistic student and her initially disapproving mother (Fassbinder favourite Hanna Schygulla in a slow-burning performance of some potency). Akin never downplays the intricacy of the proceedings, but neither does the film get too contrived for its own good. There’s a sense of inevitability to the tragic collisions which bring together lives separated by significant cultural and geographical distance. It’s one of those movies where the full design takes a while to reveal itself, but the confidence of Akin’s painstakingly composed direction and his ability to extract the best from his excellent performers never wavers.
Ultimately, it’s a clear-sighted yet uplifting portrayal of the reserves of humanity and compassion required to salve the wounds that prejudice and cruelty inflict on us. In short, this is an assured and resonant statement of hope. —Trevor Johnston.

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