Thursday, October 23, 2008

THE EDGE OF HEAVEN (Fatih Akin, 2007, Germany/Turkey) We all seek redemption at the shores of our heaven, patiently waiting to expunge our guilt and make amends for our transgressions…but we are often left with the hypnotic rhythm of soft waves and a vast empty sky. Fatih Akin dissects the cultural dichotomy between the German and Turkish characters creating pathos; he is able to reserve judgment upon their actions thus giving life (and death) to flesh and bone from fiction’s electric pulse. The elliptical narrative concerns Ali, Yeter, and the relationship with Ali’s son Nejat who is morally divided by his father’s violent act. Their story touches upon other brief lives; Ayten, Lotte, and her mother Susanne, all of whose paths unknowingly cross, their potential for salvation denied by bad luck and circumstance. The story is about Death and its impact upon the survivors: Akin doesn’t linger on the violent acts, he is concerned with getting close to the characters and seeing inside of them as they attempt to make sense from nonsense. The survivors carry the heavy burden of guilt, and try to ease their suffering by making amends: Nejat will see that the daughter of Yeter receives a proper education and Susanne will take care of her daughter’s true love. The cinematography captures these characters in tense emotional turmoil; it embraces them with lingering close-ups and establishes them in their lonely environments with beautiful medium and long shots. The plot almost deviates towards the obvious; it balances precariously close to the edge of contrivance, but fortunately breaks through to the other side of our expectations. Akin leads the audience towards formulaic prophecy then backs off, allowing the story to grow and become plausible. And we are left with Nejat waiting forever at the water’s edge...unable to ascertain the future. (B)

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