THE EDGE OF HEAVEN
Following an expected tragedy, college professor Nejat (Baki Davrak) leaves his home in Hamburg for Istanbul to find Ayten (Nurgül Yesilçay), the Turkish daughter of his father Ali (Tuncel Kurtiz)'s friend, who he wants to help financially. Unbeknownst to him, Ayten had traveled to Hamburg searching for her mother Yeter Ozturk (Nursel Kose). Now as a political prisoner, she has been deported back to Istanbul where she makes friends with Lotte (Patrycia Ziolkowska) and she and her mother Susanne (Hanna Schygulla), become entangled in the consequences.
Review by Louise Keller:
Circular in structure and story, this potent drama captures all the pathos and surprise of life itself, as chance, fate and consequences impact on relationships in Germany and Turkey. There's a profundity to Fatih Akin's film as it explores relationships between father and son, mother and daughter, friends and lovers, as their lives become interconnected and their actions impact on each other. It's as if a baton is passed from one character to the next as we follow the characters' physical and emotional journeys through barriers of language and culture, sexuality and violence and the promise of reconciliation and redemption. There are voids that isolate, and bridges that connect the two countries as the story flits back and forth.
Two deaths are the pivots for Akin's story, and we are pre-warned of both. But surprisingly we do not dwell on the inevitability of either. We are so engrossed in the characters, the complexity of the relationships and the unexpectedness of what happens. We first become involved with Tuncel Kurtiz's elderly Ali who begins a relationship with Yeter (Nursel Kose), the prostitute whose daughter thinks her mother works in a shoe shop. Their story quickly shifts to Ali's professor son Nejat (Baki Davrak) who believes 'knowledge and education are human rights.' A purpose in life is what Lotte (Patrycia Ziolkowska) gets when she gives her newfound friend and lover Ayten (Nurgül Yesilçay's) bed and breakfast. A coffin is unloaded from a plane in Istanbul; another is loaded onto another aircraft on its way to Hambug. Such is the transient nature of life and death.
There's continual pace to Akin's story as we leap from one character's situation to another. Davrak and Yesilçay ground the film with solid performances, although it is Hanna Schygulla's Susanne who elicits our greatest sympathy. It's a gripping film that increases in intensity and mood as life takes its inevitable turns.