The Edge of Heaven (Day 74)

The Edge of Heaven -- PosterMy Opinion: 7.7 || Complex, affecting movie about connections made and connections missed. After a strong beginning, the film becomes a bit strained in the middle (working too hard to set up the connections theme) but then glides in for a lovely finish.

TITLE: The Edge of Heaven (Auf der anderen Seite)
DIRECTOR & WRITER: Fatih Akin
LANGUAGE: Turkish and German | COUNTRY: Turkey and Germany
YEAR: 2008
PROFILE: Drama | 116 minutes | IMDb (7.8)

SYNOPSIS (Courtesy of Netflix): When his father accidentally kills a prostitute, Nejat Aksu (Baki Davrak) seeks out her 27-year-old daughter, Ayten (Nurgül Yesilcay), to make amends. Nejat focuses his search in Turkey, but Ayten, who’s part of a closely watched activist group, has fled to Germany. The lives of four Turks and two Germans are soon entwined as a result of circumstances beyond their control in this compelling drama, which earned Best Screenplay honors at Cannes.

Strengths: Fatih Akin, who wrote and directed, is adept at weaving storylines together, but his ability to move between cultures and perspectives is what sets the movie apart. We have Turks living in Germany and Germans living in Turkey. We have parents disowning children and children disowning parents, and we have parents and children searching for each other. The passions and failings of the characters are all rendered with sensitivity — and with enough unpredictability to establish them as full-blooded people.

The Edge of Heaven

Weaknesses (minor spoilers): The story hinges on the decision of the central character, Nejat, to search for the daughter of his father’s dead mistress. His detrmination isn’t far-fetched, but neither is it very well explored. And his further decision to remain in Istanbul, abandoning his career in Germany, seems to arise more from narrative need than clear personal motivation.

The middle section of the film features many narrowly missed connections, where we observe near-intersections that the characters are oblivious to. Some of these are a tad forced and credulity-straining, which raises concerns about the movie’s direction. Fortunately, Akin shows wonderful poise at the conclusion, bringing the film around to a beautifully untidy conclusion.

The Edge of Heaven

Characters/Performances: Despite his character’s being less fleshed out than you’d like, Baki Davrak delivers a quietly earnest performance that anchors the film. He’s a handsome actor with a warm, unassuming style that matches the role well. His castmates are equally good, particularly Nurgül Yesilçay as the hotheaded Ayten, for whom he’s searching.

Best Moment: I had qualms about where the movie was headed at some points, fearing that Akin was getting overly cute with the missed connections. The ending is perfectly calibrated, though, including a final scene that’s among the best I’ve seen on this trek.

File Under: parents and children, guilt, obligation, prostitution, culture clash, missed connections, Fatih Akin

The Edge of Heaven

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