Powerful and thought-provoking, this is one of Fatih Akin’s finest works.
Dir. Fatih Akin
2007 | Germany/Turkey | Drama | 116 mins | 1.85:1 | German, Turkish & English
M18 (passed clean) for mature theme
Cast: Baki Davrak, Gürsoy Gemec, Gengiz Daner
Plot: A Turkish man travels to Istanbul to find the daughter of his father’s former girlfriend.
Awards: Won Best Screenplay & Prize of Ecumenical Jury (Cannes)
International Sales: The Match Factory
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: General Arthouse
(Reviewed at the German Film Festival – first published on 27 Oct 2008)
Fatih Akin has recently become an important voice for German cinema. Born in the city of Hamburg but raised with strong Turkish roots, Akin represents a cross-cultural director with an extraordinary insight to these two wholly different and often contrasting cultures. In competition for the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, The Edge of Heaven lost out in the race for the Palme d’Or, but deservingly bagged the Best Screenplay award. Akin, whose previous films include Head-On (2004), builds here an impressive character-driven motion picture that uses plot as only a sideshow, and he cleverly does not tie up all loose narrative threads when the film concludes.
As a result, The Edge of Heaven is powerful, thought-provoking, and occasionally makes us feel like we are watching the unfolding of a potential modern classic. It is a hyperlink film which connects the lives of different characters through a set of circumstances. Here, viewers can observe the links clearly. However, these links do not extend to the characters themselves. Therefore, the people in the film remain oblivious of the fact that at some points in their lives their paths cross.
Germany’s official submission to the 2008’s Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film.
Akin’s film is set out in three major parts; two of which whose starting frames read out as spoilers that reveal a certain character’s fate. While this may have diminished some of the film’s impact, it gives an air of inevitability to what will eventually happen, with the capacity to shock viewers into unacceptance. The picture is shot on location, providing viewers with an authentic glimpse of exotic Turkey and modern Germany. There are many beautiful sequences including one that shows the camera moving parallel along with and capturing a fast-moving white car from afar which is getting nearer with every second.
The performances in the film are exceptional, especially Nurgul Yesilcay as Gul, a Turkish student fighting for equal rights and freedom. She is labeled a ‘terrorist’ in her country, but when her government does everything but listen to their people, it’s a false and unjustifiable claim. The Edge of Heaven explores themes of loss, love, and most identifiably, actions and consequences that define fate.
The ending is special – a lead character sits motionlessly on a sandy beach staring out at sea waiting and waiting… for hope or out of despair? The scene remains on screen for a couple of minutes before the end titles appear, and continue to be on screen till the end of the credits. It is an effective and quietly powerful conclusion to a motion picture that rivals the quality of A.G. Inarritu’s hyperlink films.