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Once every few years, a film this touching comes along
Michael Fargo22 July 2008
I usually comment on films right after I've seen them. However, "Auf der anderen Seite" (The Edge of Heaven), touched me in a way that few films do, so a month has passed.

This story of two sets of mothers and daughters, a father and his son...and a gun seems familiar, but its resolution is anything but. To lay out the plot would be daunting. So much ground is covered, yet it unfolds effortlessly. F a t i h Akin's screenplay is elliptical--the story starts where it finishes--but by the end, when the opening scene is replayed, our journey with these characters puts us, indeed, on the edge of transcendence.

Amid the desperation on display, small details brim over the images: a son waters his father's tomato plants pausing to taste the ripened fruit, a mother pits cherries that stain her fingers, another manicures her nails to avoid a quarrel, we imagine a bookstore's--specifically a German language bookstore in Istanbul--smell and the safety it can bring to a foreigner.... These domestic details are set against much larger, although finally insignificant, struggles: the cultural divide of immigrants, students revolting against an oppressive government, how imprisonment can deaden the soul. But F a t i h Akin wants the basic struggles of family bonds to be central here. It's the resolution of family rifts--small and large, emotional and physical--that are urgent.

The choice of settings, music, lighting... all carefully selected to build toward one moment that catches us off guard. When a foreigner asks "What is Kurban Bayrami?" (a Turkish holiday) the many seemingly disparate elements that we've been watching--in good faith because they're so rivetingly told--suddenly come together, it almost knocked the breath out of me.

Whether or not we as viewers have lost a father or mother or a child, through death, physical separation or emotional turmoil, we can understand what these characters suffer. And how all that can be healed—the willingness to have faith that good intentions can mend this troubled world—is something like a miracle to find illustrated on film. The weapons these characters lay down to pursue goodness don't necessarily have the effect they intend, but as we watch lives torn apart and then healed we see what they don't. And we carry that lesson out of theater with us.
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Complex and thought-provoking
gospodinBezkrai19 March 2008
"The Edge of Heaven", original title "On the other side", takes up a number of ideas from Faith Akin's previous film. But it takes them also in a new unexpected direction - with a political view (on Kurdish problem, on Europeans), with additional protagonist types - now the conflicted German Turks are joined by 'naive' Germans proper and 'seen-too-much' Turkish (Kurds) proper. All of the characters were very well constructed and, as representative types of their social groups, offered much material for the audience to reflect upon.

Indeed, a knowledgeable audience would find this film to be replete with commentary on our social and political reality, the Anatolian and the European, and on the respective preconceptions and stereotypes. Some of the commentary is tragic, some is ironic. Here, in Bulgaria, the audience laughed and applauded when the German granma said with all her conviction to the Kurdish girl that everything in her country will become alright once they join the EU. On the other hand, an émigré Kurdish audience will probably applaud a very moving and full of suspense depiction of the Kurdish struggle in Turkey, which is however frank both to Kurds and to the Turkish authorities. It included small cameos from the conflict that are for the first time openly publicised: for example, the revolutionaries as they are taken out of their hideout to be arrested by the police, announce their names to the street and the world, in apprehension of being disappeared by the authorities; minutes later the crowd of passer-bys claps to the departing police vans in a popular approval of the suppression of kurdish struggle...

Still, the myriad political and social themes are only a setting to a much more personal story. The opening of one's soul, the crossing of inner walls that separate us from those who love us. This story is repeated three times, in different context, for the three characters who remain alive to cross 'to the other side': the German mother who accepts her daughter's ideals, the German-Turkish son who forgives his father, the Kurdish girl who takes the love of her friends over her revolutionary commitment. However, the director allows no one of them to consume their redemption within the film's running time - their characters remain tragic.

It is a very powerful film. As a friend said after the screening, it tramples over you like a steam-roller. The emotional mix of the previous film "Head-on" had me cry, but crying releases the pain. This one doesn't let to release the tension even at the final scene. It will stay with you for days after.
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Taking sides
Fred Freddson14 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Auf der anderen Seite" means "on the other side", or "on the other hand", and in Faith Akin's latest film we see two parallel narratives develop, overlap and intertwine until they very much become one.

While some other viewers seem to have found the film's reliance on coincidence enervating, I found that it was a classical poetic device. As in all great art, the question is not whether the events are convincing, but whether the people stuck in these events are convincing, and in Akim's film they are.

What can you say about a film with a cast as strong as this? Hanna Schygulla, especially, offers a stunning performance, but the rest of the ensemble is also very impressive.

Finally the film is a meditation on what divides cultures and what divides the generations. A Turkish son finds it in his heart to forgive his father, a German mother decides to forgive and help her daughter's Turkish lover.

In order to make it to the other side, beyond anger and towards understanding and forgiveness, you need to overcome yourself and be open to what the world can give even when it has taken so much away. Faith Akin knows how to tell this story in a way that is both heartbreaking and uplifting. A great film and an important film.
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People are more alike than they often realize
mahoenders3 March 2008
Faith Akin, renowned for his energetic movie 'Gegen die Wand', brings another story about the Turkish-German community. The movie focuses on three families who are all connected in some way. In a beautiful way Akin shows the struggle of a Turkish prostitute, a professor of German literature, a young Turkish rebel, a student English and Spanish and a retired widower to find peace and happiness in their lives. Akin manages to avoid the many pitfalls which can lead to clichés. The characters remain just ordinary people with genuine emotions and problems. The movie also depicts the impact of globalization and multiculturalism in nowadays Germany and Turkey. It's the most debated topic of our time. To what extent do we want newcomers to adapt to their new surroundings and to what extent do we accept them to cherish their own cultural heritage. In an even broader perspective, it deals with the clash between the Islamic and western world. 'Auf der anderen Seite', which means on the other side, shows how Turkish immigrants come to love their new country, Germany, without losing their Turkish roots. I think Akin invites us to try and imagine the backgrounds of people, so there will be less misunderstanding. This view is symbolized by Lotte, a German student, who decides to help Ayten, a Turkish political activist who fled Turkey. She doesn't know the Turkish girl but just wants to help her, because the girl has nowhere to go. This quest even brings her to the shores of Istanbul, a city where East meets West in the most literal way.

In the end, 'Auf der anderen Seite' is a story of love and hope which is most endearing and sheds a refreshing light on the global trend of clashing cultures. Any one who is interested in these topics and just loves a very well made movie, ought see this German-Turkish production!
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Where is the edge of heaven?
Red-12511 May 2008
Auf der anderen Seite (2007), written and directed by Faith Akin, was shown in the U.S. with the title "The Edge of Heaven." This is a powerful and moving drama that interweaves the stories of six people--a father and son, and two mother-daughter pairs. The father and son are from Turkey, but live in Germany. At the outset of the movie, one of the mother- daughter pairs is separated, with the mother in Germany and the daughter in Turkey. The other mother-daughter pair are Germans living in Germany. By the end of the movie, for various reasons, each of the six has traveled from one country to the other.

Faith Akin, himself a German of Turkish heritage, obviously understands and is comfortable in both worlds. Some of the characters in the film make the transition from one culture to the other seamlessly, but some suffer from extreme culture shock, and all of them are changed.

The acting is uniformly excellent. I particularly admired Nurgül Yesilçay as a Turkish student and radical, and Patrycia Ziolkowska as the young German woman who befriends her. Fassbinder's muse, the incomparable Hanna Schygulla, has possibly the most difficult role of the six, and, as always, she is outstanding.

We saw that film at the Rochester High Falls International Film Festival, but it will work well on a small screen. This is an extraordinary film, and it's definitely worth finding and viewing.
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"this my friend, this is cinema!"
Guy Anisimov12 May 2008
many of us who watched or are thinking about watching Faith Akin's latest film are most probably turning to it after being impressed by his more than amazing Head-On which i personally love! To avoid disappointment, besides the tag line which seems pretty similar these two movies are not very much alike. The best would be to take 'TEOH' as what it is and not as "Head-On the sequel".

the movie tells us the story of a young Turkish professor who lives and most probably grew up in Germany, and now decides to set on a journey back to his hometown to find the daughter of his father's new girlfriend. as it turns out finding someone in a foreign country is not that easy, and as such there are many emotions and surprises involved.

what especially stands out are the cinematography which presents a beautiful and colorful Turkey and the direction which is nothing less than superb! although there are no big names in the cast, as a whole it performed a great job, especially by Nurgul Yesilcay who portrayed the looked for daughter and Hanna Schygulla who portrayed the mother of this daughter's lover.

for me, just as it was a great movie it could have been a great book, especially because of the ending that no matter how hard i tried just didn't let me get this movie out of my head. in an interview i've seen of the newly internationally acclaimed and appreciated director he mentions Emir Kustorica and also confesses how after making Head-On he thought he knew one or two things about cinema and how now after making The Edge Of Heaven he knows that nor he nor many others have any idea what cinema really is. He ends by quoting Mr. Kustorica after watching TEOH saying "this my friend, this is cinema."

highly recommended to anyone everyone!
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A Masterpiece... Out of this world!
peytoo23 May 2008
I had the unique chance of watching one of the best movies of my life - being a huge movie buff myself - today before the official screening of the movie in Toronto. The story of several people in Turkey and Germany and how fate and circumstances connect them and liberate them from their sins, mistakes and guilts. The performances, the phenomenal script, juxtaposition of scenes, direction, locations... everything is sooooo beautifully rendered and executed that leave the viewer with nothing but endless admiration for anyone involved, particularly Faith Akin, whose story-telling and direction deserved a Palme D'or and a Best Foreign Language film Oscar. He won the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes 2007 though and deservedly so. The finale easily found its way among my most favorites...

Another Strong Point: The character of father which is faultlessly written and performed!
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Beautiful, great , would have deserved Palme d'or
adipocea17 April 2008
I don't really want to be polemic right now, because this movie invaded me with such a elevated state of spirit and emotions that I just want to say good things. But I cannot help myself and assert openly that this film was much more compelling, emotionally charging, smart, vast, wide and deep , than the winner at the Cannes Film Festival, 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days. Faith Akin, whom first much lauded feature Gegen Die Wand I didn't like at all(i found it intoxicatingly loud, shaky and in a way polluted) has just hit the jackpot with this gem of a movie. Of course not the jackpot for money but for artistic value. Just go and see this movie, it's gonna be worth every second you spend in front of the screen. It will make you cry (and laugh sometimes), but it will elevate your state of mind and melt the tension within yourself.
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Reaching for great themes, and telling a good story
Chris Knipp24 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The Edge of Heaven (actual title Auf der anderen Seite, "On the Other Side"), Faith Akin's new movie, doesn't have a marvelous character in it like the feisty, moody Cahit, played by the feisty, moody Birol Ünel in Akin's stunning 2004 directing/writing effort, Head-On (Gegan die Wand), a compulsively watchable cross-cultural saga that won the grand prize at the Berlin Festival. But this one has Hanna Schygulla, magnificent as the bereaved mother of a young woman who goes astray for love. And instead of two people with wildly disorganized lives, it has six people, who come in pairs, whose lives criss-cross unawares. All go back and forth between Germany and Turkey—as they must, because Akin is himself a man partly German and partly Turkish.

Akin's scenario is ingenious enough to have won the Best Screenplay award at Cannes and like Head On's, isn't short on turbulent and surprising events. It unfolds like a collection of neatly intertwined short stories. An old man in Bremen, who's Turkish (Tuncel Kurtiz), goes to a prostitute in a blonde wig (the appealing Nursel Köse). She turns out to be Turkish herself. He revisits her and persuades her to give up the oldest profession and come and live with him; he promises to pay her as much as she's been making as a "woman of easy virtue." He has a nice place with an enclosed garden where one can dine and enjoy the vines and tomato plants. And he's a good cook. But he's crude and reckless. He wins and loses at the races. He's also a drunken brawler and on his first night with the lady in his house his overindulgence brings on a heart attack. She sticks with him, but when he's back from the hospital, still smoking and drinking, he fights her and accidentally kills her. His son, Nejat (Baki Davrak), is a professor of German. We see him in a lecture citing Goethe's disapproval of revolution. We don't know it yet, but at that very moment a young Turkish woman, who's a revolutionary on the run (Nurgül Yesilçay), is sleeping in the lecture hall. The prostitute has a daughter in Turkey and after she dies, Nejat, as recompense, goes back to Istanbul to try to find her. Maybe eventually he meets her. But the markers of the screenplay are the deaths of the prostitute and of the young German woman called Lotte (Patrycia Ziolkowska) whose mother is Hanna Schygulla.

You can organize all that happens in your mind in various ways—as a study in contrasts and parallelisms of generations; as an examination (like Head On) of conflicts between cultures and between inner moral law and external social pressures; as an ingenious depiction of that modern sense that everybody is connected, yet also doomed to isolation. Or you can just say it means people do the damnedest things. What's certain is that even with our attention divided among more central characters this time, Akin still knows how to make us care about them. We have to because they feel complex and unpredictable and their relationships are fresh and explosive. His images are open and his movement is wonderfully fluid. One scene slides into the next with such smoothness and inevitability that it's only later you may feel like these dovetailing moments (though how they're filmed is nifty) are a little too pat—even as the ways relationships are constantly reshaped alternatively through luck, coincidence or unbridled emotion are curiously moving. Akin has caught something of Kielslowski and also of Haneke. And the way people shift identities may even owe something to the Antonioni of The Passenger. Like these big boys of European cinema he reaches for great themes, but he also tells a good story. There's something for everyone here, though some in the audience may not know what to make of it all. This is the kind of movie, like Head On, you want to see more than once.

Shown as part of the series Film Comment Selects at Lincoln Center, New York, February 23, 2008, this will go into limited release in the US May 21, 2008.
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Faith Akin, poet of the sadness and is becoming a master
cabartha15 March 2008
After seeing his film Duvara Karsi (Gegen die Wand), I made a personal decide : I must see all his films before I die. Now, I believe that my last experience with "Auf Der anderen Seite" proved that I'm right with my decision. What I like to see in his films is hearing and seeing the love from different angle. Sadness is a way to understand the value of the love and he is showing us that in his own style. Even I stay against some of the characters, in my personal opinion, he tries to tell us that when you match with life and being wanted, being needed, all other constitutions and formations are nothing! He also uses and mentions Turkiye's crossing to a new looking and new thinking. His bridge between two cultures is so strong and this story could not be filmed by any other director. Excellent work and a must see.
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A well deserved Cannes best screenplay winner
Harry T. Yung3 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Justice cannot be done to this extraordinary movie that won the best screenplay award in Cannes by a few paragraphs of comments. For one thing, its content is so exceptionally rich that receptive audiences will find themselves thinking about the movies days, maybe even weeks, after watching it. Many compare it to "Babel" but that is superficial. Unlike in "Babel" and many similar movies where threads connecting the three separate stories are haphazard, the lives of the six protagonists in the three stories of "The edge of heaven" are truly interwoven. And there are no melodramatic contrivances and twist like the ones that drag down "The kite runner" a few notches.

While different audiences will focus on different things (political conflict, caltural clash, sexual orientation, remorse and atonement, dispair and hope), this is first and foremost three father-son and mother-daughter stories. German father-and-son pair has Ali the common, earthy retired father and Nejat educated college professor son. Their relationship could have been at least civil and cordial had not the old man's sexual pursuits become increasingly irritating to Nejat. Also German are Susanne and Lotte, in a situation that is not at all uncommon, mother's tradition values against somewhat rebellious daughter. The third pair is Turkish mother Yeter who is very easy to sympathize with, a woman who wants so much for her daughter to escape the vicious cycle of poverty and poor education that she goes to German to become a prostitute to finance Ayten's education back in Turkey. The cruel irony is while Yeter's secret is harmless, Ayten's is not: she is a member of a militant underground resistance group.

The way these three pairs are connect is quite complex but not it any way contrived. It will do both the writer and the audience an injustice to try to describe the award winning plot in the context of IMDb user comments. Suffices to say that the two main connecting points are that Yeter/Ali and Ayten/Lotte. In the first case, after providing sex service to Ali for a period of time, Yeter comes to live with him as his woman. In the second case, Ayten, trying to seek political asylum in Germany, encounters Lotte and they become lovers. These two situations, expectedly, meet with disapprovals from Nejat and Susanne respectively. Two accidental deaths set off a chain of complicated events that see the remaining four characters converging in Turkey.

The story is told in a simple, straightforward fashion that set European films apart from staple Hollywood. "Simple" here is complimentary, as you'll understand after having indigestion from artificial, formulaic Hollywood treatments (e.g. blood seeping out from a body on the floor to make sure that the audience understand that its occupant is dead). This does not mean that cinematic montages are not used. It's just that they are not over-used and are used only at the right time. One example is when Susanne is in a hotel room in Turkey at the beginning of the third "chapter" (there are written chapter titles on the screen at the start of each). Another is the voice-over announcing refusal to Ayten's asylum request overlapping with Lotte's argument with Susanne before leaving home for Turkey.

Spoiler warning notwithstanding, I have already said too much about the movie that is much better left to be enjoyed by the audience as the stories unfold.
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ingeniously constructed look at fate and the part it plays in our lives
Roland E. Zwick24 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Making symmetry of form out of seemingly random events, the Turkish-German co-production entitled "The Edge of Heaven" is a complex and beautifully realized human drama built on a series of carefully worked-out interlocking coincidences and parallel events. The movie, written and directed by Faith Akin, begins when an old Turkish man living in Germany accidental kills a prostitute he has paid to come and live with him. As a means of atonement, the man's guilt-ridden son, a language professor at a German university, journeys to Istanbul to find the woman's daughter and offer her assistance in financing her college education. Unbeknownst to him, the daughter is a member of a "radical" political group that the Turkish government has decreed to be a terrorist organization. The plot becomes increasingly complicated as it continually wanders off onto unexpected pathways, introducing new and fascinating characters, and finally coming full circle around on itself at the end. Suffice it to say, there are two unexpected murders, two sets of mothers and daughters, three pairs of parents and children, and two young ladies of a more than kindred spirit that become part of the finely woven tapestry of this film.

One of the primary virtues of "The Edge of Heaven" is that it doesn't feel compelled to follow any kind of standard storytelling arc just to please its audience. It spends a certain amount of time with one set of characters, then moves on to another set, not concerned if we don't get all the connections right off the bat. Major characters become minor ones, and minor ones major as the movie advances through its storyline. Yet, perhaps that is a misleading way of putting it, for, in this movie, no one can ever be a truly "minor" player - for the film is based on the premise that even the most seemingly random, inconsequential event can set off a chain reaction of future events, all leading to major, sometimes devastating and certainly unforeseeable consequences for the people involved. This lack of a conventional narrative purges the movie of contrivance, even when the characters keep crossing paths with one another in ways that would normally place a strain on our credulity. Here, however, thanks to the naturalism in both the performances and the direction, this small-world pattern feels ever so right.

Filled with beautiful, heartfelt performances, "The Edge of Heaven" presents its tale of forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation in a form that is wholly unique and quietly spellbinding. As with a beautiful pointillist painting, the movie reveals its full picture only after we have stood far enough back from it to be able to view it in its entirety. And what a beautiful picture it turns out to be.
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Auf der anderen Seite
film_riot16 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This new film by Faith Akin, "Auf der anderen Seite", is thematically very close to his excellent last film "Gegen die Wand". Again the story plays to some parts in Germany and to some parts in Turkey. There are two big plot lines that Akin in the end ties up. The first compliment that I have to make is that although his films are multicultural cinema, the films only consider religion as being one part to their whole (which is something special if you look at global discussions about ethnic problems). Many migrants fight a constant battle between their old and new home. In the end they don't really feel home anywhere. Main character Nejat Aksu, played by Baki Davrak, is a prime example for this ambivalence. He's not fully able and willing to leave the Turkish elements in him behind and for that is able to see the conflict between identities even clearer. Ayten Öztürk's character on the other hand lets us experience what freedom of opinion really means. Nurgül Yesilçay delivers a very fine performance in this role.
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This film received a houseful screening in Bangkok International Film Festival 2007
ilovetoseethemovie25 July 2007
I have just finished watching this film in Bangkok International Film Festival 2007. The film plays to a full house, no doubt with almost half those in attendance being enthusiastic at how it snagged best screenplay in Cannes Film Festival this year.

Through slow-paced storyline from the beginning till the end, devastating impact on protagonists is absorbing and overwhelming as the film is explored. However, what I like about this film lays on forgiveness of the person who lives towards the one who dies, which might be a crux of this film, besides universal subject of racism stressed here. Some dark and bleak moments are also well-done. The leads do a commendable job, but most importantly, their chemistry undeniably believable.

After leaving the theatre, the viewers might have some idea that self-intriguing plot plays more important role than budgeted films.
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We are all connected
stensson25 November 2007
This is the "Short Cut" concept once again, but in a much more clever way. It says that everybody are destined to get together. For better and for worse. We don't know it, but our movie audience understands.

This is also about the relation between Germany and Turkey and West and East at the present moment. The two are closer now than they used to be, but both parts are still hurt after each meeting. Unconditional love is hard to reach, but people try, without knowing it.

A movie about sadness but also a little about hope. Many things are too late, but some things aren't. You'll definitely sit through the final scene, for reasons which shall not be mentioned here.
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"Humorous, tragic and romantic story..."
Sindre Kaspersen7 May 2012
German screenwriter, producer and director F Akin's fifth feature film which he wrote and co-produced with Andreas Thiel, Jeanette Würl and Klaus Maeck, is the second part of a planned trilogy called "Love, death and the devil" which was preceded by "Head-On" (2004). It premiered In competition at the sixtieth Cannes Film Festival in 2007 and is a Germany-Italy-Turkey co-production which was shot on location in Hamburg and Bremen in Germany, in Taksim and Kadiköy in Istanbul and at the Black Sea in Trabzon in Turkey. It tells the story about Ali Aksu, a widowed and retired Turkish immigrant who lives in Bremen. One day Ali meets a Turkish prostitute named Yeter whom he grows affectionate about. Ali is looking for a partner and offers Yeter to pay her the same amount that she earns working at the brothel if she comes to live with him. Yeter agrees and moves in with Ali, but after having met his German son, a professor who lives in Hamburg, Yeter gets into an argument with Ali that leads to him being sent to jail and his son traveling to Istanbul in order to find Yeter's 27-year-old daughter Ayten whom he thinks is a student.

Acutely and engagingly directed by filmmaker F Akin, this humane and compassionately narrated fictional tale which is set in Germany and Turkey during the early 21st century, draws an incisive portrayal of a young Turkish woman who is searching for her mother, the relationship between a German professor and his father and the relationship between a German student and her mother. While notable for it's naturalistic milieu depictions, the fine production design by art director Sirma Bradley and production designer Tamo Kunz, cinematography by Swiss cinematographer Rainer Klausmann and editing by English-born film editor Andrew Bird, this humorous, tragic and romantic story depicts several studies of character and examines themes like family relations, cultural clash, forgiveness, death and love.

This universal, character-driven and finely tuned European film which has the lives of six characters intertwining, contains a fine score by German DJ Shantel and is impelled and reinforced by it's fragmented narrative structure and the empathic and involving acting performances by Turkish actor, playwright and producer Tuncel Kurtiz, Turkish-German actor Baki Davrak, Turkish stage and film actress Nurgül Yesilcay, Turkish-born German actress Nursel Köse and German actress and singer Hanna Schygulla. A multifaceted and invariably moving drama which gained, among numerous other awards, the award for Best Screenplay at the sixtieth Cannes Film Festival in 2007, the European Film Award for European Screenwriter at the 20th European Film Awards in 2007 and the NSFC Award for Best Supporting actress Hanna Schygulla at the 43rd National Society of Film Critics Awards in 2009.
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Moving, Timely, Intelligent Look into the Turkish-German Meld
secondtake18 July 2009
The Edge of Heaven

This is such a powerful, expansive, yet intimate movie about one of the things that matters most in our times, it's hard to fault it. The acting, the events, the setting, and implications of all these characters meeting and not quite meeting, suck you in. If it seems to have a lull now and then, you end up feeling the pace of their lives, and the pace of life itself. The events, even when they have a comic twist, are so heady and difficult they could make whole films each by themselves, but here they work through several related sections within a single tapestry.

As strong as the acting is, the core of the movie is the series of events, the plot. You'll see early on some coincidences beyond reason, making the plot almost Shakespearean, and therefore artful. The roles are each character are just a little surprising, just enough to keep us curious, yet each character represents a distinctive aspect of the crosscurrents of German and Turkish cultures and worlds, such as old people assimilating and young people refusing to assimilate. Even more than the mixing of Mexican and American worlds here in the U.S., this is a dramatic and more contentious melding, fraught with all those dangers of misunderstanding we hear in the news every day. Yet when it's brought down to the level of individuals, even seemingly unyielding ones, humanity wins.

I don't know how this film will carry itself in a couple decades. As well made as it is, it feels rooted in the moment, and when the times change yet again, there might be some kind of art or magic or transcendence missing to make it fully transport a viewer. It will remain interesting, but possibly less moving. But then, maybe the themes, of parents and children, of friends looking for who they miss and avoiding who they can't stand any more, might just be universal. But as a reflection of our world right now, 2009 (or 2007, when the movie was finished), it helped clarify just what life is like out there, beyond cinematic glitter and glam, beyond hyped up violence and romance. And beyond even the limitations of documentary in creating aura.

The Edge of Heaven happens to end with such lyrical highs, the name of the movie hits you hard. We are reminded of what exists beyond all the trappings that made so many people in the previous two hours so miserable, and it's there for us to tap into and to have in common, regardless.
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Brilliant artistic vision
sergepesic15 June 2009
"The Edge of Heaven" is simply put a masterpiece. It's been a while since I've seen such brilliant artistic vision and flawless execution. Turkey and Germany are two parallel worlds of this movie's characters. People and coffins travel from one place to another, never-ending pain and joy intertwined. The director Faith Akin, German of Turkish descent perfectly understands both worlds.He inhabits the souls of his characters and draws some of the most memorable performances from his cast of marvelous actors. I have to point out mesmerizing Hanna Schygulla, the muse of late Reiner Fasbinder, in an absolute perfection of a performance. The scenes of her characters grief are some of the most gut wrenching moments of naked pain I've ever seen in a movie. I feel grateful to Mr. Akin for this rich slice of humanity that captures accurately all the things that make are both different and alike in the same time. Nations and religions are only the crust. Underneath are the soft and vulnerable beings full of love and fear.
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Interesting to compare this with Alan Parker's Midnight Express
rowmorg6 May 2009
Two gifted film-makers working 30 years apart, giving two contrasting impressions of Turkey.

In 'Edge of Heaven', Turkey is modernised, and the typical European thinks that "everything will be alright when Turkey joins the European Union". Yes, there are hungry and criminal Kurdish children, and access to free literacy and tertiary education is restricted, which is why the rebellious Communist woman gets into trouble. But the general impression is that Turkey is a functioning democracy that comes down hard on armed insurrectionists --- and who wouldn't?

In 'Midnight Express' (the title refers to escape as the only way out of prison), Turkey is a dysfunctional "land of pigs" where the justice system is totally corrupt and the prisons are medieval hell-holes into which people are thrown never to emerge, and where uniformed psychopaths have free rein to torture, rape and exploit.

Is it not ironic that Midnight Express, which caused a sensation when released in 1978, was an Anglo-US attack on sordid justice, and 30 years later it is the Anglo-US axis which brought us Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, rendition and waterboarding?

It would be interesting to know what kind of film Alan Parker would make about Turkish prisons today. The Kurdish minority is treated badly in Turkey and there are probably horrid stories of injustice to be told, but would anyone in the USA be interested in a mistreated Kurd, as opposed to a sandy-haired white boy from Long Island? To be fair, Edge of Heaven is as much about Germany as Turkey, and its presentation of Turks is three-dimensional. But to view this film alongside Midnight Express reminds us how much of film is hidden propaganda.
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Clap Clap...
Sinan Ozel28 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of those movies that speak to your soul directly. Excellent scenario and directing, a wonderful use of the "helplessness" and "missing half" theme, and a strong moral implication related to today's ideological arena.

The complex story is well-woven and under the control of the scenarist. The storyline revolves around four or five characters, creating a couple of different stories that go on. No one among the characters are aware of the full complexity of the situation they are in, and they keep missing their destiny by a couple of seconds or by a couple of meters. The audience is fully aware of what is going on, and this creates a feeling of helplessness. One main theme therefore is that: Helplessness in the face of chance meetings - or lack thereof.

One of the main characters, arguably the main character, Nejat Aksu, (acted by Baki Davrak), is reminiscent of the writer/director himself. He is a professor in a German university, and his emotional or behavioral ties with his rural Turkish background are split. As a loner, the audience does not hear much his opinions or feelings on the issue; we have to judge by small changes of expression in close shoot-ups. He has lost his "Mediterranean" expressiveness. In contrast, Lutte's (acted by Patrycia Ziolkowska) behavior becomes more and more aggressive, as she moves geographically (and mentally) towards Turkey.

One note of interest is that all characters have a "missing half", somewhere else in the movie, but fail to get to that half, and even die trying. Nejat Aksu has lost a mother, and then loses his father. The maternal figure is there with Lutte, but Lutte is missing the father and a certain strength of will to take steps, as she later confesses in her journal. Ayten Öztürk is also missing the mother, probably she is missing a lover as well - she is unrested - she is in fact "a person you likes to struggle" as commented by Susanne Staub. Lutte's mother, Susanne Staub (by Hanna Schygulla) is missing a daughter eventually. This contributes to the feeling of helplessness, but also adds a moral tone, implying that solutions to our life problems can be lying closer than it would appear to us.

A very touching scene in the movie is when Susanne is in front of the window, watching the Muslim man walk to the prayer. She is explained by Nejat Aksu the significance of the festivities, and she realizes that she is closer to Turkey than she imagines. In that scene, she takes a step towards making a posthumous peace with her daughter, which she direly needs. The scene is symbolic in the sense that it reflects the political arena.

The writer and the director Akin is an acute observer. The contrast between Istanbul and Bremen are first laid out with striking effectiveness, then the similarities in the human emotional range are brought out to contribute to the reconciliation towards the end. In effect, the audience is presented with a moral tone: To find the missing half, you have to actually "travel", geographically and mentally, to the other half, and make your peace with it. The other half, is of course, Germany and Turkey, West and East.

The end is particular: Two important questions are unresolved. Are we then to assume that our characters are lost without hope? No, because Susanne Staub and Nejat Aksu have already taken the first steps to "reconcile with their missing half".

One possibly negative point about the movie is that the director's image of the Turkish police force and lawyers is outdated by probably twenty five years. However, this is to be overlooked for the sake of cinematic language and the story.

The movie is a rare piece. It tells a story of lost chances, with an ongoing theme of "missing half" and "miss by a couple of inches". However, we have reconciliation at the end, creating a feeling of optimism but also unresolved issues which helps to add the moral tone of: "You have to go towards your missing half to reconcile".
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Best German movie I have seen in a long time
Superunknovvn30 December 2008
"Auf der anderen Seite" is the first Faith Akin-movie I have seen, and I was surprised by how balanced and mature it was. Looking at Akin's young age and the "gang"-background of his youth, I was expecting something much louder, more brutal, more explicit, more devastating. What "Auf der anderen Seite" is, is a deeply humanistic and thoughtful movie.

The thing that I loved most about it, is that every single character is written so well. No one is a villain or a bad person per se, they're all just human, struggling to do what they think is right. The actors and actresses portraying these characters are fabulous. I've rarely seen such convincing and natural performances.

Finally, the story itself is original, unagitated and beautiful. The individual plot lines don't come together as you think they would or as you think it might be best for the characters. When the movie ends, you will find that everything did resolve in a way. It's hard to explain it, if you haven't seen it. Let's just say this: "Auf der anderen Seite" doesn't have the average Hollywood-solution, but it will leave you with a lot to think about when the credits quietly start running.

This movie really impressed me, and I can't wait to finally see Akin's other works. Apparently Germany's finally got a really interesting filmmaker deserving of all the praise he gets.
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What motivates Susanne (the mother): or, what is not said (+ key)
dirk19506 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
(1) The single quality of this movie, as with all great art, is "what is NOT said/shown", but what the viewer has to make up in his own mind. This being a German movie, could it also be necessary to go back those 30 years, when Susanne (Hanna Schygulla's character) went hiking to India, so mid- to late 1970's. Could she have been this bit leftist-leaning person ? This could explain her resolve finally to support Ayten - after the EU/Turkey argument - and also the break-up with the completely absent husband, Lotte's father (only hinted at in the phone booth sequence). (2) The "Bayram/Abraham's sacrifice" (starts at scene one !) is the key underlying the film and uniting the countries and the characters: /SPOILER/ every one of them is responsible for killing whom he/she likes most but you can repent already "on this side".
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An emotional power reminiscent of Kieslowski
Howard Schumann21 September 2008
Forgiveness, redemption, repentance, and connection form interweaving themes of Faith Akin's complex and multi-layered film The Edge of Heaven. Titled On the Other Side in German, the film is primarily character-driven but is shaped by political, cultural, and family conflict that illuminate the struggle between first and second-generation Turks and Germans and their loneliness in exile. Akin builds his narrative on elaborate coincidences, yet his characters are drawn with such nuance that we willingly go where he takes us without questioning. Though The Edge of Heaven is a realistic drama, shifts in the timeline and dreamlike visions introduce surreal touches that serve to enhance its intensity.

Moving between Germany and Turkey, The Edge of Heaven is divided into three sections, two revealing a crucial plot point in its inter-title. In the first section, Nejat (Baki Davrak), a second-generation Turk, is a university professor in Hamburg, Germany. He is close to his father Ali (Tuncel Turkiz), a lonely widower who is a frequent visitor to the red-light districts of Hamburg. When he falls for Yeter (Nursel Kose), a Turkish prostitute, he asks her to move in with him and have sex whenever he wants. When Yeter is intimidated by two Turkish fundamentalists on the bus because of her profession, she decides to accept his offer. Nejat also takes a liking to her and comforts her when she cries over her estrangement from her 27-year-old daughter Ayten (Nurgul Yesilcay) whom she has lost contact with in Istanbul.

After a tragic accident in his home, Nejat travels to Istanbul to try and locate Ayten to help her in her education, purchasing a small bookstore while giving up his teaching job in Hamburg. What he doesn't know is that Ayten, a militant political activist, has fled Turkey and returned to Germany to find her mother and seek asylum. In Part Two, Ayten meets Lotte (Patrycia Zlolkowska), a German student without clear direction in her life. To the consternation of Lotte's more conservative mother Susanne, brilliantly performed by former Fassbinder star Hanna Schygulla, they move in together, forming a passionate sexual relationship. Letting down her guard when stopped by police for a routine traffic inspection, Ayten is arrested and sent back to Turkey after her request for asylum is denied on the grounds that since Turkey has applied for admission to the European Union it could not be a threat to her safety.

When Lotte soon follows her to Istanbul, another shocking incident is precipitated and the final chapter follows the characters as they deal with personal tragedy and seek reconciliation. In The Edge of Heaven, the 34-year-old Akin has vaulted into the elite group of international directors whose films have a universal appeal. It is not only that he is willing to confront serious issues but that his characters are three-dimensional human beings who we believe in and care about regardless of their politics. The Edge of Heaven will have you applauding not only for an emotional power reminiscent of Kieslowski, but for its message of forgiveness and empathy, offered without pandering or sentimentality.
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platinumpyrrs19 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This movie has some powerful scenes. Lotte running through the streets in the stark sunlight, chasing someone she does not know because she is so in love. Found that unforgettable. Had not seen the actress playing Lotte before; she has a great face for cinema. Great casting here, all the actors faces under the microscope, most actors faces showing depth and compassion. Especially Yeter and Lotte. Also, Susanne and Nejat, the ones who find mutually satisfying relationship in conclusion. My kind of movie, I must say. Believable, honest, emotional, driven by the longing of the human heart.

PS. Also liked the scene where Nejat is driving through tunnels; the first one has light at the end. Then he enters one that is dark and the scene shifts. He is taking a risk to change his life away from the mundane, to find connections to his heart. He is a likable character, balanced and patient, but also brave. Also liked Yeter's deep dignity under her protective surface. Actress playing Yeter is superb on the bus when accosted by two #$$*oles. Memorable.
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F-a-t-i-h Akin
Midyetava17 January 2011
Aside from the outstanding work of the director and whole movie crew, one more thing can be said; the name is "F-a-t-i-h" Akin not 'faith'. And it means "the conqueror" in Turkish. :)

Ironically enough it's the name given to F-a-t-i-h Sultan Mehmet Khan after he conquered Constantinapolis and have built a new city over the 7 hills of the metropolis that is "Istanbul". A historic turning point when once an ancient and eastern civilization marked its majestic presence in the west. Since then Turks literally became more and more of western civilization, not by only being influenced by but by influencing, 'manipulating', 'corrupting' and 'contributing' to it. :)

Now Fa-tih conquers all cinemas of Europe with the themes in or about Istanbul, themes about east and west, themes of Europe and Asia, themes about Turks, Romanians, Bulgars, Greek and German people... A truly Turkish character, combining, contradicting, fighting or getting along fine with east or west. ;) Truly life and his 'fate' (but not his faith :P) has a solid sense of humor. :) Go F-a-t-i-h the conqueror! ;)

P.S. Someone should warn IMDb about the automatic correction feature at least here on this page and have it disabled.
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