Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
THE EDGE OF HEAVEN MOVIE REVIEW(Auf der anderen Seite)
Directed & written by: Fatih Akin
Running time: 122 minutes
Release date: May 21, 2008 (Limited NY), May 30th (LA) and July 11th (San Francisco)
Genre: Drama, Foreign (English, German & Turkish with English subtitles)
Distributor: Strand Releasing
MPAA Rating: Not rated
The Edge of Heaven delivers a poignant film crossing cultures. As in German-Turkish writer/director Fatih Akin's 2004 film Head On, he links various characters from two different cultures. In this case, German and Turkish laws, politics, religions, love and traditions merge.
This complex film focuses on six main characters. A German language professor named Nejat Aksu (Baki Davarak) with Turkish origins whose retired and widowed Turkish father Ali (Tunscel Kurtiz) finds himself attracted to a street smart attractive middle age woman Yeta Ozturk (Nursel Kose). Yeta is a Turk who prostitutes herself in the Red Light district in Germany and speaks German to keep her Islamic countrymen from ridiculing her.
Ali proposes she move in with him in Istanbul, Turkey for a monthly stipend and she accepts. Nejat initially disapproves on the arrangement, but soon finds Yeta to be a very pleasant person to share a home with. However, Yeta starts to reflect on the daughter she left behind in Germany. Her daughter Ayten (Nurgul Yesilcay) is a political activist who some see as a terrorist. She falls in love with a female German student named Lotte Staub (Patrycia Ziolkowska) who lives with her mother Susanne (Hanna Schygulla) who represent and firmly believe in the E.U. (European Union). This is an optimistic theory that would transform Turkey into a western-style democracy. The thought behind this is to establish a modern secular state. This is a major theme in the plot that sets up intelligent cloak and dagger scenes of murder, political espionage and romance.
Unfortunately, Yeta accidentally dies and Nejat decides to search for her daughter Ayten which ultimately brings these characters together. This edgy script compelled me to take a long look at these two worlds. The film showed the Turkish Islamic fundamentalism, the friction regarding the large Kurdish minority and the lack of democratic freedoms. While, the German traditions are westernized, giving freedom of education to all and sometimes without strict codes of ethics, they are basically opposite of the Islamic doctrines of men being superior and women inferior and only the ruling class to be given opportunities.
The excellent performances by the entire cast made an overwhelming impression on me. Each character developed into an identifiable piece of this cultural puzzle binding everyone together. The story was entertaining, as it was meaningful. Many scenes were seductive and some were sensitive, giving substance to a good plot. This was Germany's submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 80th Academy Awards. It was the Lola Award Winner (German equivalent of the Academy Award) for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Editing in 2008. This is an excellent, insightful movie; highly recommended.
FILM RATING (A)