Sweet Salvation

The Edge Of Heaven Successfully Juggles Multiple Storylines

There are three intersecting stories in The Edge of Heaven, Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akin's beautifully told tale about parenthood, racial identity and generational conflict and how they affect, sometimes fatally, six principal characters. The first centers on widower Ali, his German son Nejat and a Turkish prostitute who moves in with the old man (yes, it's a purely sexual relationship).

After Ali accidentally kills the woman during a drunken argument, Nejat goes to Turkey in search of Ayten, the prostitute's 27-year-old terrorist and lesbian daughter, who's shacking up in Germany with college student Lotte. Ayten is arrested and sent back to Turkey, where she's imprisoned. Lotte, against the wishes of her mother, works to free her until another tragic turn of events comes into play.

No more than three of the characters' stories ever crisscross at the same time, yet by the time the moving and elegant Edge of Heaven reaches a sort of salvation at its conclusion, all of them have connected. In one of the film's earliest scenes, Nejat is teaching a group of bored kids at his university. One of the girls, we see later, is Ayten, who has snuck into his classroom to catch some sleep. Nejat doesn't notice her and never realizes that this is the very person he'll soon uproot his life for.

Director Akin does a terrific job of juggling the six characters and piecing together their story (a few scenes repeat in the film from different perspectives). More crucial to The Edge of Heaven's narrative, he's able to give each of his leads Ð and make no mistake, this is an ensemble piece, with standout performances by Baki Davrak as Nejat and Nurgul Yesilay as Ayten Ð a sense of desperation, whether in Ayten's vague political motives or Lotte's decision to put her education on hold while she helps her girlfriend.

It ultimately comes down to father and son, and mothers and daughters, making peace with one another. By the end of the movie, each character has lost someone, either physically or emotionally. And try as they might, no part of heaven can ever bring them back.

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