Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Movie Rec: The Edge of Heaven

Do you Netflix? We do. It makes sense for us since we tend to watch a lot of movies and some television shows (The Wire and Entourage at the moment). Sometimes, though, I'll have a movie for over a month and think, "Well, I'll just send it back since I probably won't watch it." I almost did that with The Edge of Heaven.

I'm not sure if Brian or I put the movie in our queue. He always takes the blame but I think this was one of mine (and not just because I liked it so much) because it's foreign and won an award and Cannes last year. He doesn't follow Cannes. Anyway, I wasn't going to watch it because of the subtitles; sometimes I just don't feel up to paying close attention to a flick. But, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 90% on it's meter and so I gave it a go.

I'm so glad I did. It's such a great film and so difficult to describe. A man of Turkish descent accidentally kills a prostitute (also of Turkish descent) that has been living with him in Germany. The man's son goes to Turkey in the hopes of finding the prostitute's daughter to help her out and let her know what happened to her mother. The prostitute's daughter is involved in a radical group that the government deems to be terroists. The daughter escapes to Germany where she meets and falls in love with a girl at a university. And, I'm just getting started.

The movie basically intersects all these lives with coincidences and near-misses in such a beautiful way that they hardly seem manipulative. It's like Babel, only done right. I don't know if you've seen Babel but it that movie was so contrived, I had trouble sitting through it. I mean, a couple's youngest child dies of SIDS and they decide to run off to Morocco to save their marriage. They don't give a second thought to their two other children at home, grieving the loss of their brother. And don't get me started on the nanny who kidnaps the kids to go to her son's wedding in Mexico and then ditches them in the desert. I'm supposed to care what happens to these people?

But in The Edge of Heaven, even though no one is perfect, I did care about the characters. Fatih Atkin makes each one so unfailingly human that it's difficult not become entrenched in their lives even while thinking, "Oh no, don't do that!" He also employs a few other cinematic tricks such as fragmented chronology and chapter titles that announce the demise of a character that has not yet been introduced.

Oh, it's so good! I can't recommend it enough. And, one thing I LOVE about foreign films is that they tend not to hit you over the head with plot points or obvious conclusions; often, they let you decide for yourself. A welcome respite from the Hollywood belief that everything must be explained.

It's just one of those great films that stays with you long after the credits.

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