Published May 23, 2008Fateh Akins follow-up to the lacerating Head On is this crisscrossing narrative puzzle, which managed to wow the jury in Berlin while underwhelming the pointier-headed critics over here.
After an initially rapturous assessment at last years TIFF, a second viewing finds me in between these poles of opinion. The films two stories sort of merge into one: the first finds a retired Turk in Germany paying a prostitute to be his de facto wife, an arrangement that ends in tragedy. In the other, that prostitutes radical daughter flees Turkey and finds love with a German student. Also involved are the pensioners academic son and the students mistrustful mother, the latter played by Fassbinders grand dame Hanna Schygulla with the appropriate heavy heart.
Telling more wouldnt be cricket, as it involves the complex interpenetration of the two stories and the need of characters in one for those in the other. Its got the same saltiness and emotional brutality as Head On but its been charged with being obvious and overwritten. Indeed, the second storys lesbian romance is too blatantly imagined by a horny man and the constant reminders of characters missing each other come off less trenchant than twinky. Still, the core attempt to see its heroes yearning for connections that are inevitably frustrated (mirrored in its constant transit between Turkey and Germany) is ambitious in scope and deeply, deeply melancholy.
In response to those "everyone is connected except really theyre not movies is Akins vision of nobody being connected even when they need the links. Whatever its amateurish hiccups, the attempt is pretty unusual and suggestive enough to count, especially for aspiring filmmakers who might want to take notes and someday polish the concept of this diamond in the rough. (Mongrel Media)