The Edge of Heaven
With Goethe’s assertion that ‘We are our own devils; we drive ourselves out of our Edens’ ringing in his ears, the seriously gifted Turkish/German filmmaker Fatih Akin (Head-On, Crossing the Bridge) delivers something completely different in his new movie. Moving from Bremen in Germany to Istanbul and beyond, The Edge of Heaven is a multi-character tableau that delicately interconnects the stories of retired widower Ali (Tuncel Kurtiz), Turkish prostitute Yeter (Nursel Köse), Ali’s professor son Nejat (Baki Davrak), Yeter’s daughter Ayten (Nurgül Yesilçay) and German student Lotte (Patrycia Ziolkowska). With an Altman-like touch, Akin (as both writer and director) slowly begins to paint an all too chilling portrait of the broken bond between Germany and their Ottoman friends in the south.
Like Haneke’s Hidden, The Edge of Heaven is a film that deals in a currency of ill communication and violence. What initially seems like a nice chamber drama suddenly breaks into shocking violence as characters struggle to unburden what is really on their minds. This film is a huge step in maturity for Akin, whose last film, the wonderfully nihilistic love story Head-On sometimes felt like it was stapling the viewer to the floor with vicissitude. With its interwoven and haphazard threads The Edge of Heaven is probably most easily comparable with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s flawed Babel. Unlike that film, however, Akin refuses to allow melodramatic contrivance to enter the frame, just ardour and atonement, despair and hope. And there’s even a brief appearance by Fassbinder’s favourite actress, the great Hanna Schygulla. Highly recommended.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh, from Fri 7 Mar.