The Edge of Heaven
(Auf der Anderen Seite)

edge of heaven

The Edge of Heaven (Auf der Anderen Seite)
Made in: Germany, Turkey
Language: Turkish, German, English
Director: Fatih Akin
Starring: Nurgül Yesiçlay, Baki Davrak, Tuncel Kurtiz, Patrycia Ziolkowska, Hanna Schygulla, Nursel Köse
Year: 2007

Synopsis: Ali Aksu (Tuncel Kurtiz), is an elderly Turkish widower living in Germany. He takes in Yeter (Nursel Köse), a prostitute who also happens to be from his home country. Although Ali's son, Nejal (Baki Davrak), disapproves, he develops a rapport with the strong-willed Yeter.

But when Ali inadvertently kills the woman in a drunken rage, Nejal travels to Istanbul, Turkey, in search of Yeter's estranged 27 year-old daughter, Ayten (Nurgül Yesiçlay).

Ayten, who's part of a radical activist group, has her own problems. A fugitive, she illegally enters Germany to escape from Turkish authorities. She meets the kindhearted Lotte (Patrycia Ziolkowska), who's a university student. Lotte takes her in, much to the chagrin of her mother, Susanne (Hanna Schygulla). But Ayten's troubled past catches up to her, and a huge legal mess ensues.

Seemingly unconnected lives begin to intersect in Istanbul, and all the major players find themselves on a journey of sacrifice, self-discovery, and forgiveness.

The Good: Not quite as intense as director Fatih Akin's earlier film, Head on (Gegen die Wand), The Edge of Heaven is arguably a better constructed, more powerful piece. The story becomes more than just a search for a missing person, and the scenes seamlessly flow from one character's drama to the next. The intersection of lives never seems contrived, and it definitely kept me interested in finding out how all the events would finally unfold.

With the absence of heavy-handed melodrama, the actors all come across as real people. And Akin does a great job with visual/symbolic parallels throughout the story (particularly with the various parent-child conflicts).

The shots of Istanbul and Germany are beautiful, and give the viewer a more genuine feel for those places as opposed to a "post card" glance at major landmarks.

The Bad: The film is divided into several scenes, or chapters, that are each labeled by titles. The titles purposely reveal major plot turns. Although it builds intrigue, I thought the film could have been just as strong without them.

Who would like this movie: The Edge of Heaven is for you if you're already a seasoned viewer of foreign films. The dialogue also switches between Turkish, German, and English, so this film should also appeal to you if you like languages.

From a storytelling perspective, anyone who watches this won't have trouble understanding what's going on. But it does move at a relatively slow pace. It's a serious film that deals with heavy subjects, so it's best if you're prepared to see an emotionally charged, realistic piece.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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