Sunday, April 13, 2008

Yaşamın Kıyısında (aka Auf der anderen Seite or The Edge of Heaven)

Utterly serene, contemplative and yet very complex film by great director Fatih Akin –he has been called a poet of sadness- who also wrote this outstanding screenplay about death, incomprehension of many types, and in my opinion also about lack of communication.

The literal translation of the German title is “On The Other Side” which once again totally fits the story and so many scenes that move or suggest the movement from one side to the other, as this movie moves between Turkey and Germany almost like if there were no barriers. But of course there are huge barriers and this film tells us about many of them. By the way after seeing the movie I spend many minutes thinking about the movie title and the relation to the story… where is the edge of heaven I was thinking… if only I knew better German, he he.

The film has three acts, the first one called Yeter’s Death, the Second Lotte’s Death and the last has the film name. Basically is the crisscross slice of life tale about four Turkish and two German nationals. We have a retired Turkish immigrant living in Germany Ali Aksu (Tuncel Kurtiz) that asks Turkish prostitute Yeter (Nursel Köse) to come to live with him. Ali’s son Netaj (Baki Davrak) is a German Literature professor that bonds with Yeter as soon as he finds that she’s sending money home for her daughter college education. One-day drunk Ali accidentally kills Yeter, which makes Netaj to go back to Istambul searching for her daughter and sets the motion to get into act two.

Yeter’s daughter Ayten (played by beautiful Nurgul Yesilcay) is a Turkish militant who thinks that her mother works in a German shoe store and when things get complicated in Istambul with a fake identity flies to Germany with help of the militant group she belongs, but the group in Germany try to take advantage of her. She starts to look for her mother, but penniless and hungry runs into university study Lotte (Patrycia Ziolkowska) who helps her and eventually the two become lovers. But Lotte’s mother Susanne (played by Fassbinder’s legend Hanna Schygulla) is not very pleased with having an illegal alien living in her house.

Think that I told too many things about the story when actually I just wanted to introduce the amazing characters, but still there are many things that I left out that you just have to see when you watch this fantastic movie and you really have to pay attention to all details as this is the kind of movie where almost everything that is shown has relation with other things that will be shown later.

The story is told in a non-correlative sequence and moves back and forward in time, with some repeated scenes from a different pov according to what character story conducts the act. This was just an amazing and fascinating way to tell a story that perhaps sounds more complex when is described, but in the screen soon enough you’ll realize the style and highly enjoy the narrative with all the crisscrossing.

Great performances by all leads plus outstanding cinematography with some incredibly amazing framed scenes make this movie perhaps Akin’s best to date and suggests the ample style range that this amazing director can handle and could handle in the future that as one critic says “he’s not on the same level as the legendary Polish director of the Decalogue and the Three Colours Trilogy at least, not yet.” and definitively I agree, as even if Akin is not there, he is getting very close. Chapeau.

Just browse this blog to find the many honors, nominations and awards that this movie has got in almost one year after being premiered at the 2007 Cannes were won the Best Screenplay award. The movie was Germany official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 2008 Academy Awards.

It also took me almost a year to be able to see this movie and I had huge expectations that were absolutely surpassed. This is a movie that I highly recommend to all that love serious cinema.

This is one of those movies that have lesbian characters but the character’s sexual preference is not what makes the characters crucial to the story and film. Nevertheless because the film is excellent and the two women relation is persuasive I will give the movie the label and a must be seen for those that enjoy the genre.

It’s hard to say that a movie with a story like the one that tells could be loved, but I just loved this movie for the great story, the great director and as a fantastic serene and complex movie.

Big Enjoy!!!

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