A German filmmaker of Turkish descent, Fatih Akin has made hybrid cultures and hyphenated identities his great subject. Head-On, his acclaimed breakthrough film from 2004, told a love story between two German Turks that wended its way back to the homeland. In The Edge of Heaven, his latest, the fixation on blurred borders and social dislocation continues on a larger canvas. Several characters shuttle back and forth between Turkey and Germany, even as the quest for home and rest seems increasingly quixotic. But let the overstuffed The Edge of Heaven be a lesson: Just multiplying and magnifying your obsessions does not make them any more powerful.
Divided into three chapters, the movie is populated by the homesick and the homeless. There’s Nejat (Baki Davrak), a professor of German literature in Hamburg, who returns to Turkey after his father commits an accidental crime. Going in the other direction is Ayten (Nurguel Yesilcay), a radical activist who escapes arrest in Istanbul by fleeing to Germany. Once there, Ayten bums around and searches for her mother, Yeter (Nursel Koese), who moved to Germany many years earlier. She turns out to be a prostitute, who one day services Ali (Tuncel Kurtiz), Nejat’s father, and takes him up on his offer to be his fulltime companion. Ayten meets and moves in with Lotte (Patrycia Ziolkowska), a college student at the same university where Nejat teaches. Ayten and Lotte fall in love, a development observed warily by her mother, Susanne (Hanna Schygulla), who will end up in Turkey by the sheer force of Akin’s authorial will. Click here to read the rest of Elbert Ventura’s review of Fatih Akin’s The Edge of Heaven.