The Edge of Heaven (Germany/Turkey/Italy; 122 min.)

directed by: Fatih Akin
starring: Nurgül Yesilçay; Baki Davrak; Tuncel Kurtiz; Hanna Schygulla; Patrycia Ziolkowska; Nursel Köse
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Michael says: "Fatih Akin made a bit of a splash a few years ago with his film HEAD-ON. The director was born in Germany from a Turkish heritage, and his films, at least the two I have seen, take place in these two countries. It’s a fascinating exploration, and one that is rarely, if ever, seen on American cinema. In EDGE OF HEAVEN, Akin weaves two disparate stories together by coincidence and circumstance. Nejat is a Turkish man working as a professor in a German University. His father befriends Yeter, a prostitute, who he hires to come live with him. When he suffers a heart attack, Yetter grows close to Nejat. After a tragedy befalls the three, Nejat finds himself moving to Turkey where he buys a German bookstore. Meanwhile, Yeter’s daughter Ayten, who has been living in Turkey, finds herself illegally in Germany after the dissident group she is a part of runs afoul of the law. Ayten befriends Lotte, and the two begin a romantic relationship despite Lotte’s mother’s protestations. When Ayten is deported back to Turkey, Lotte follows in a an attempt to help her. More tragedy ensues and Lotte’s mother Susanne ends up in Turkey as well.

"The themes of acceptance and reconciliation suffuse THE EDGE OF HEAVEN, which won the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes. As the actions of certain characters cause the deaths of others, albeit inadvertently, both the characters and the viewers must come to terms with these actions and decide whether or not to bestow forgiveness. I found the character of Susanne to be particularly strong, and Hanna Schygulla, a veteran of nearly 100 acting roles, including several with Fassbinder and Godard, is wonderful. Nursel Köse brings a complexity and realism as Yeter. There is an undercurrent of political, racial and religious tension throughout the film that propels the action forward sometimes directly, sometimes superficially. It’s a complex and fascinating look at a handful of people living on the boundaries of two countries. 4 cats"

Carolyn says: "I like stories that have a clever, realistic way of bringing together or intertwining the lives of would-be strangers.  The ethnic, national and religious differences make it that much more impressive.  Interesting the way it was framed in vignettes based on who was going to die.  4 cats"