"The Edge of Heaven": a fable about the kindness of strangers
"The Edge of Heaven" is Fatih Akin's magical Turkish-German drama, which follows a gentle literature professor searching for a stranger. The open ending, which deliberately doesn't quite connect the dots in the coincidence-driven story, is essentially a meditation on the nature of anticipation.
Special to The Seattle Times
"The Edge of Heaven," with Baki Davrak, Hanna Schygulla, Tuncel Kurtiz, Nursel Kose, Nurgul Yesilcay, Patrycia Ziolkowska. Written and directed by Fatih Akin. 122 minutes. Not rated; suitable for mature audiences. In Turkish, German and English, with English subtitles. Varsity.
About five minutes into Fatih Akin's "The Edge of Heaven," I suspected I was watching a masterpiece: a movie so clear, confident and distinctive that it seemed to be creating its own new genre.
That feeling did not dissipate during the next couple of hours. If anything, it grew stronger, especially as Akin built to an ending both biblical in its allusions and contemporary in its open-ended style.
The finale, which refuses to connect all the dots the writer-director has so painstakingly established, is essentially a meditation on the nature of anticipation.
Akin is German-Turkish, and his films tend to deal with people who feel allegiances to both countries. His much-loved 2004 immigrant drama, "Head-On," dealt with a Turkish couple living in Hamburg. "The Edge of Heaven" focuses on four Turks and two Germans.
A time-tripping fable about the generosity of strangers and the frequently absurd coincidences that shape our lives, the film begins (or appears to begin) with a gentle professor, Nejat (played by actor-poet Baki Davrak), talking with an attendant at a Turkish gas station.
Then the story line abruptly switches to the northern German town of Bremen, where Nejat's crude father, Ali (Tuncel Kurtiz), hires a prostitute, Yeter (Nursel Kose), to become his full-time companion.
Yeter and the visiting Nejat hit it off immediately, so much so that Ali becomes jealous of their platonic friendship. When she dies suddenly, Nejat feels compelled to track down her daughter, Ayten (Nurgul Yesilcay), a political activist who has been labeled a terrorist in Istanbul.
When Ayten takes another identity and crosses the border to Germany, she is sheltered by a student, Lotte (Patrycia Ziolkowska), and her disapproving mother, Susannah (Hanna Schygulla).
Davrak, whose character begins and ends the film, might have dominated it with his soulful performance, but this is an ensemble piece in the best sense. Kose turns Yeter into an entrancing mixture of pragmatism and spontaneity. Yesilcay and Ziolkowska make such a magnetic couple that you never question their sudden attraction to each other.
Whenever Schygulla (the star of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's "The Marriage of Maria Braun") is on-screen, her character's shifting loyalties are front-and-center. Even the smallest roles (a frustrated bookstore owner, thieving street kids, a chain-smoking detective) are given a fresh dimension.
Akin clearly loves to capture these characters when they first meet, or when they almost connect with each other. These near-misses — sometimes ironic, sometimes amusing, occasionally tragic — become part of the fabric of the film, which suggests an appreciation of fate that borders on the magical.
John Hartl: email@example.com
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When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.