In just a couple of movies, 34-year-old Fatih Akin has become the most exciting of Europe's young directors, reinvigorating the melodrama with a furious kind of identity politics. Like "Head-On," his 2004 wrecking-ball romance, Akin's new "The Edge of Heaven" is perched along the fault line of the current Turkish-German situation. And the more determined he is here to examine the chasm between the two sides, the wider and deeper the movie gets.
Germany at the moment is home to about 2.7 million people of Turkish citizenship or heritage , making Turks the nation's largest and most fraught minority. Turkey, meanwhile, is exasperatingly close to European Union membership and yet at odds with itself over how European, Muslim, and Middle Eastern it is and wants to be.
Tensions between the two nationalities got a workout the other night in a wild Euro 2008 semifinal between Turkey and Germany, which might have been a real headache for a young German Turk trying to choose a side. In "Edge of Heaven," the dilemma of nationality is a backdrop for familial skirmishes carried out between generations.
It may do no good to rehash the story, since some of its magnificence stems from detours down surprising alleys of plot. Akin shuffles the chronology and tells you what's coming in two of his bluntly titled chapters (the death of so-and-so). But he's both architect and construction worker - head in the sky, feet on the ground. Still, it probably helps to have a sense of the souls who inhabit a building as big and vibrant as life.
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