The Edge of Heaven(Auf der anderen Seite)
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.
BY Andreas Heinemann Flicks Writer
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.