The Edge of Heaven

The Edge of Heaven

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Director Fatih Akin's follow up to festival darling Head On, continuing his examination of the place of Ethnic Turks in contemporary German society. Best Screenplay winner at Cannes 2007.

A Turkish man travels to Istanbul to find the daughter of his widower father's recently deceased prostitute girlfriend. She in turn is already in Germany, a political activist on the run from Turkish authorities.

Flicks Review

Writer/director Faith Akin had a whole lot to live up to with The Edge of Heaven. His previous work, Head On, cut a swathe through awards ceremonies and critics lists all over Europe, catapulting him to wunderkind status in the world of foreign language cinema and unofficial poet laureate of the cross-cultural immigrant experience. Fortunately for him, and us, his latest offering largely succeeds in cementing that reputation.

Nejat, a German born ethnic Turk, is initially dismayed when his lonely widower father Ali invites prostitute Yeter to live with him, but soon thaws when she reveals that she is only in her line of work to provide for her daughter Ayten back in Turkey. After her sudden death, he decides to travel to Turkey to track her down, not knowing she has already made her way to Germany to escape political persecution and is lodging with student Lotte and her disapproving mother. And these are only the initial events of the intricate storyline that unfolds. The Edge of Heaven won best screenplay at last year’s Cannes festival and it is easy to see why.

Although some of the initial scenes veer dangerously close to contrived coincidence in their efforts to set up later developments, once it hits its groove it immerses you in a slow burn of plot twists and emotional responses that don’t let up until the credits roll. It takes the multi-narrative approach to storytelling, not as a flashy gimmick but as a method to juxtapose and parallel, often simultaneously, events, locations and characters so that the themes of inter-generational and cultural difference are laid bare. Furthermore, it tells a story of how rebirth emerges from death and consequently how love must walk through life hand in hand with heavy sadness. This may appear depressing on the surface, but is handled with such a slight of touch that the conclusion points to a hopeful way forward in the future without resorting to cliché.

Ultimately, the script is a vehicle to maximise the time spent with, and the understanding of a range of richly drawn, well-directed characters. All the cast members are excellent in their portrayal and inhabitation of the characters, but the star that shines the brightest belongs to Ayten (Nurgul Yesilcay.) She has both the distinctive look and acting ability that could easily see her cross over into mainstream Hollywood stardom.

If you're a fan of complexly plotted human drama, you’re in for a treat.

The Peoples' Reviews

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The Press Reviews

  • The best approach is to begin with the characters, because the wonderful, sad, touching The Edge of Heaven is more about its characters than about its story. Full Review

  • The Edge of Heaven has many things to say about relationships, about immigration, about crime and punishment, and it does it all with beauty, wit, and intelligence. A stunning film. Full Review

  • The director, who also wrote the script, achieves a keen-eyed view of the Turkish expatriates in this film while sustaining his remarkable ability to make them universal. Full Review

  • Often a string of sparse frames, shot with a refreshing economy of words. The picture’s near flawless performances add to its overall appeal. Precise and smooth, The Edge of Heaven has but one jarring note: the political face-off between Susanne and Ayten at the beginning that sounds too much like a sermon. A cliché that could have best been avoided. Full Review

  • By the end you know the characters in it so well that you can't believe you've seen the movie only once, yet on a second viewing it seems completely new. And that may be because the world they inhabit is immediately recognizable -- until we get to heaven, it's where we live -- and like no place you've been before. Full Review

  • Deliberately paced, The Edge of Heaven unfolds in its own bittersweet time, punctuated by a couple of unexpected moments of non-explicit, almost off-camera violence. Full Review

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