søndag 20. mai 2012

"Fassbinder's Reincarnation"


Original title: Gegen die Wand/Duvara Karsi
Year: 2004
Country: Germany/Turkey
Language: German, Turkish
Number: 1029
Director: Fatih Akin
Starring: Birol Ünel, Sibel Kekilli, Catrin Striebeck, Meltem Cumbul
Berlin: Golden Bear, FIPRECSI Prize
IMDb: 8.0
RT score: 90%

Germany and Turkey, two countries, one with no identity and the other one with a strong one. Two quiet different cultures with different traditions and rules. There's four million Turks living in Germany, and one of them is Fatih Akin who made this film called Head-On which is a film about the strong Turkish identity and how it's affecting them in a country that is far from their native mother land, and how it don't prevent them from following the religious dogmas and rules about family honor from their country.

Cahit Tomruk (Birol Ünel), an alcoholic homosexual Turkish immigrant has just ended up in a hospital after a failed suicide attempt where he drove a car right into a wall. On the hospital he meets a young Turkish girl in her early twenties, Sibel (Sibel Kekilli). She's also there because of a suicide attempt, in order to escape her extremely traditional parents. She then ask Cahit to marry her so that she can get her parents of her back. Cahit is against it at first, but agree's on the condition that they both can live their separate lives. But after all Cahit begins to develops real feelings for her, and she does the same, but one day Cahit hits Sibel's former lover with a bottle out of anger, and he ends up in jail, while Sibel who is now a dishonor to her family is in danger of being killed by her own brother. She then escape to Istanbul to live with her cousin Selma, but her longing for Cahit makes her want to ease the pain by using narcotics. How will it end? Is there any light in the end of the tunnel?

Head-On is a heavy lightning down to earth dark film about individuals who have given up on life and have sunken as low as possible. It sort of reminds me of a Rainer Werner Fassbinder film in that way that we follow the lowest creature in the Hierarchy, pretty much like in Fox and His Friend where a young hustler who finds himself in company with a bigger elite, and is out of touch with this community and don't fit in. It's the same in Head-On, only this time it's all about Cahit's Turkish identity that is the question when he's involved with a family of Turks, while Cahit's Turkish is kind of rusty. He is out of touch with his own Turkish Identity, basically he doesn't belong anywhere.

Sibel is like Cahit, a rebel. But she doesn't have the same background, plus she's also more pubertal, because she's grown up in a more liberal society than her parent's. She wants to brake free from her family traditions, or as she herself put it "I want to live, I want to dance, I want to fuck... and not only with one guy". But she also get to see for herself what to much harm freedom can do to a person.

What's so special about Turkish/German films is that their Motherland is always in their mind and is sort of like a place for escapism. Head-On is a strong film about this Turkish identity and how it effects people's lives. It show us how low a person can sink because they want to deny who they really are. Head-On clearly shows this in a brutal way by drug abuse and adultery. It's a strong film, well crafted by a great screenplay and some marvelous realistic acting, specially by the two leads Birol Ünel and Sibel Kekilli who have such a great chemistry that every actors should have.

Grade: A

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