Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The edge of Heaven (Faith Akin)

From the director of Head-on, this is another perceptive interplay of lives, emotions, generations and geographies. Threading together lives of six people, Faith Akin has created a beautiful, if a slightly morbid drama of relationships and penance. His characters are drawn together by diverse relations - filial, carnal, romantic and human, each a little strained.

The film is presented in three sections, Death of Yeter, Death of Lotte and the Edge of Heaven. Each of the two deaths is sudden and unexpected, even when you already know the title of the section. At the center of all these stories is Nejat, a second generation Turk in Germany, a professor of German. Nejat's father Ali, one day brings home Yeter, a middle-aged Turkish prostitute, with the intention of living with her. Though disapproving at first, Nejat accepts Yeter - the two form a kind bond which is looked upon suspiciously by Ali. In a fit of anger, Ali hits Yeter which leads to her death.
Nejat flies to Turkey to attend the funeral and sets out to look for Yeter's missing daughter Ayten. On an impulse, he decides to buy a German bookstore in Istanbul, settles there and continues his search. Meanwhile, we meet Ayten, who is involved in an armed rebellion against the government and escapes police to seek refuge in Germany. She meets a fiery, idealistic girl called Lotte, the two embark on a passionate relationship which is frowned upon by Lotte's mother Sussane. Ayten is eventually caught by the police, which leads to series of tragic events. But these events also bring together these unconnected people in an unusual companionship and inter-dependence, which even though highly co-incidental, appears natural and perfectly believable.
The story deals with many things - the alienation between generations is at the center, where each generation explores its independent life that it wants to hide and protect from the other. Each of them is angry at and disapproving of the other. Even a mild mannered Nejat is offended by his father's arrangement and is deeply resentful of the accidental murder committed by him. Susanne tries to restrain Lotte, and aware of the hippy life that Susanne once led, Lotte resents the restraint. Ayten and Yeter are never shown together in one scene (except a crossing once), live in different countries and have no idea of each other.
The movie also explores the relationship between Germany and Turkey, which is based on political correctness and a sense of guilt. Turkey itself is shown distracted with its conflict between its tilt towards tyranny and its desire to be seen as a modern and tolerant nation that is fit to join the EU. However, the slightly angelic message that Akin delivers through his narrative is that we can overcome all these divisions with a little bit of tolerance, forgiving and penance. But with prejudices and reservations, we stay a step away from this victory.
The movie is introspective, in contrast to Head-on which was violent and extreme. The whole contrast is embodied in the differences between Cahit, who was deeply dissatisfied and unhappy , and Nejat who is more or less is at peace with his life, but still feels a vague emptiness. Even Ayten's political discontent is muted in comparison with Sibel's sexual discontent.
On the other finer aspects of the movie, the performances by each character are extremely good. The camera has explored both countries with a familiar intimacy, exposing them in the weight of their ages. The music is beautiful.

7 comments:

Szerelem said...

gah! I want to see this movie so much!!! Did you seeit on DVD? I went crazy hunting for one with English subs in Istanbul this summer but to no avail :(

I also think Nurgul yesilcay is lovely.

Madhuri said...

Yes she is. But in this film, I could hardly look away from Baki Davrak, who was terrific in his acting and calmness.
I watched it on big screen - an off-chance screening by PVR, which turned out to be lucky for me :)

ABHIII said...

A-ha, so u saw this movie. It's as powerful as 'Head on' & the acting is uniformly excellent. I didn't know PVR showed a screener of this movie.

Anyway now u look for 'The Band's Visit'(I bet u shall lov it) & 'The Visitor'.

Madhuri said...

Abhii, yes I did track the movie. Thanks for suggesting. Also for your other recommendations.
Once in a while PVR Juhu in Mumbai screens an international movie which runs for one show per day for almost a whole month. It is hardly publicized so one has to keep checking the listings to find that screening.

ABHIII said...

Yeah, I've been to PVR juhu many a times.. the shoppers stop one right? Few months back they were screenin 'Far North'. I'm waiting for a film festival like the ones they have in Pune.

Alok said...

I saw this a few months back and liked it too. This criss-crossing narrative style (also in other recent films like Crash and Babel) fits very well with the criss-crossing lives we live in the modern world.

Also it is good to know that these films are getting released in mainstream theatres. I hope it is a trend and not just an exception.

Madhuri said...

Amen