|THE EDGE OF HEAVEN (AUF DER ANDEREN SEITE) (director/writer: Fatih Akin; cinematographer: Rainer Klausmann; editor: Andrew Bird; music: Shantel; cast: Baki Davrak (Nejat Aksu), Nursel Kose (Yeter Ozturk), Hanna Schygulla (Susanne Staub), Tuncel Kurtiz (Ali Aksu), Nurgul Yesilcay (Ayten Ozturk), Patrycia Ziolkowska (Lotte Staub); Runtime: 116; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Andreas Thiel/Klaus Maeck/Fatih Akin; Strand Releasing; 2007-Germany/Turkey-in English,German and Turkish with English subtitles)|
|"Much like one
of Fassbinder's great ones."
by Dennis Schwartz
The at the time 34-year-old acclaimed Turkish filmmaker raised in Germany, Fatih Akin ("Soul Kitchen"/"In July"/"Head-on"), writes and directs this profound melodrama about the fragility of the human condition. Not only is Rainer Werner Fassbinder's muse Hanna Schygulla part of the brilliant ensemble cast, but the poignant film is much like one of Fassbinder's great ones. The pic focuses on six characters (an estranged Turkish mother and daughter, an anguished relationship between a Turkish father and son, and an anguished relationship between a German mother and her daughter) and tells with deepening intensity their overlapping stories. In a contrived but always engrossing way it touches on such broad subjects as life's eerie coincidences, the universality of love, finding one's roots, the clashes between German and Turkish culture, the divide in politics and religion, and the estrangement among single parents and their lone child. The film goes around in a circle, as it begins and ends in Turkey's Black Sea coast during its bayram (a three-day religious festival).
the winner of the Best Screenplay award
at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
Turkish widowed elderly pensioner Ali Aksu
(Tuncel Kurtiz) lives alone in
Bremen. His adult son Nejat (Baki Davrak)
teaches at Hamburg University, about an hour away. On
a visit the scholarly bachelor discovers dad is living
with a middle-aged Turkish prostitute he met
at the local brothel, Yeter Ozturk (Nursel
Kose), under a business arrangement whereby he
every month matches her prostitute income for
widowed Yeter mentions she has a 27-year-old daughter,
Ayten (Nurgul Yesilcay), living in Istanbul, who was
told her mom works in a Bremen shoe shop. The
dissolute drunken Ali is hospitalized after a heart
attack, and when recovering at home frets that his son
might have screwed his possession. In a drunken
stupor, telling Yeter he owns her, Ali accidentally
kills her when she rejects him and he slaps her hard.
This chapter was entitled "Yeter's Death," and was
flashed on the screen before her actual death.
imprisoned in Germany, and Yeter's body is sent back
to Turkey for burial. The timid Nefrat wants to find
Yeter's daughter to give some financial reparations to
honor his family's tarnished name over the incident
and goes to Istanbul. But when Nejat has no luck
locating the student, he quits his respected teaching
post and buys a bookstore in Istanbul. All the while,
with the help of Yeter's family, he continues to look
next chapter flashed on the screen is entitled “Lotte’s
Death.” With that we follow Ayten at a political
demonstration, where she's a radical protester against
the government and when she runs off with a beaten
policeman's gun she is identified through her lost
cell phone. Fleeing to Hamburg after hiding the gun on
a roof, the surly Ayten develops a strong dislike for
her radical comrades providing assistance and flees
alone to Bremen to find her mom. While begging for a
meal at the local university, the wide-eyed German
coed Lotte (Patrycia Ziolkowska) not
only buys Ayten a meal but invites her to live
together with her divorced middle-class mother in
mom's modest house. The girls carry-on a lesbian
relationship under the watchful eye of the wary mom.
When Ayten can't produce an ID during a police traffic
stop, she's arrested as an illegal. Eventually there's
a court appearance and Ayten's refused asylum and
returned to Istanbul. Imprisoned in Istanbul and
awaiting a court date for stealing the gun Lotte,
against mom's wishes, treks to Istanbul to lend
support to her friend and lover.
circumstances bring the living main characters closer,
a series of tragic events occur that has a profound
effect on each of them. Everyone in their own way
tries to repair their damaged lives, as things
eventually come around full circle.
an intellectually sound film that packs an emotional
wallop, one that stays with you long after watching
it. But it's also a contrived film, doing everything
it can to sway you to see both Turkey and Germany as
the filmmaker sees it.
REVIEWED ON 11/15/2014 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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