The Edge Of Heaven

The Edge Of Heaven


Reviewed by: Val Kermode

Fati Akin has already picked up a number of awards, including best screenplay at Cannes, for this tale of a father and son from Turkey living in Bremen, Germany.

The father begins to visit a Turkish prostitute, and when he wins a large sum on the horses he invites her to come and live with him. This arrangement does not seem to please Nejat, the son (Baki Davrak). But when his father is taken into hospital after a heart attack the woman, Yeter (Nursel Kose) confides in him about her daughter, a political activist, who is missing and in trouble. Nejat consoles her. The father returns and is immediately suspicious. There is a quarrel, which results in the first of two unintentional deaths.

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The father goes to jail and the son goes to Istanbul, where he attends Yeter’s funeral and meets her family. He resolves to stay on in Turkey to look for her missing daughter. When a cousin asks “What about your father? He replies “A murderer is not my father.”

Meanwhile the daughter, Ayten (Nurgul Yesilca) is on the run from the police following a political demo. Her friends are captured and she is forced to flee to Germany. There she lives rough until she is befriended by a young student, Lotte (Patrycia Ziolkowska) who takes her to live in her mother’s home. A loving relationship develops between the girls, but Lotte’s mother (Hanna Schygulla) is unhappy about housing an asylum seeker.

When Ayten is picked up by the police and eventually returned to Istanbul, Lotte follows, much against her mother’s wishes. There she begins the seemingly hopeless task of finding and helping Ayten.

Now the paths of these main characters begin to cross and weave like the threads of a Turkish carpet. There are many coincidences which stretch credulity, yet stay just within the bounds of possibility. Akin plays a few tricks with time. The opening scene, on the coast of the Black Sea, makes sense when it is played again later in the film. Early on we see Nejat lecturing his students on Goethe. One girl has fallen asleep. This is shown again when Ayten is at the university. Is she the sleeping girl? But isn’t Nejat in Turkey by then? And what are we to make of the scene where Ayten and Lotte drive past a bus and Nejat is seen sitting with Ayten’s mother on the bus?

Akin’s screenplay is intricate and original, and his story is ultimately an affirmation of the strength of personal bonds over the political. The love between mothers and daughters, fathers and sons. The Edge Of Heaven is an uncomfortable place to be. There are always those who will close ranks and not allow you in. Lotte’s mother tells Ayten that things may be better for her when Turkey joins the European Union. She says it twice because even she doesn’t believe it. The German title reminds us that there is another side and some people will always be on it, but a few steps can take us there.

Reviewed on: 23 Feb 2008
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The Edge Of Heaven packshot
A young man of Turkish descent travels to the old country to look for the missing daughter of his father's girlfriend.
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Director: Fatih Akin

Writer: Fatih Akin

Starring: Nurgül Yesilcay, Baki Davrak, Tuncel Kurtiz, Hanna Schygulla, Patrycia Ziolkowska, Nursel Köse

Year: 2007

Runtime: 122 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Germany, Turkey


London 2007

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