Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Edge of Heaven

(Auf der anderen Seite, German, 2007)

An old Turkish reprobate, living in Germany. A Turkish prostitute frequented by the old man. The old man’s son. The prostitute’s estranged daughter, living in Turkey. A German lesbian student. The student’s mother. The lives of these six people intertwine in unexpected and, frankly, some rather unlikely ways. But since this is a story told in the style of Crash and Babel, it doesn’t really matter. We follow one thread to its end, then back up and follow another, seeing a few scenes from a different perspective. In a thriller or a mystery it would matter that mere chance brings these people so close, so many times, and yet leaves them mostly unaware of each other and the role each actually plays in the lives of the others. Here, it’s just fine, and we savor the sense of irony each missed contact brings. There is much story here, but not in the sense of a plot, where things are brought to a resolution of some kind. This is more like real life, where there is only one resolution, and that is death. Two characters will find resolution—and the director tells you up front who they are, leaving you to wonder fearfully how they will meet their end, and that works just fine, too. But for the others, life goes on, and the mere idea of resolution is just one more lie in the bag of tricks of those professional liars, the writers of fiction. (Like myself.) This is an extremely good film, mostly starring people you have never heard of unless you see a lot of Turkish cinema. The one big name is Hanna Schygulla, who I have seen in several other movies. She was most frequently in the films of Werner Fassbinder, perhaps best known from The Marriage of Maria Braun. She was quite the sexpot. She’s 64 here, no longer glamorous, but quite powerful in a new way. I recommend this film highly. On the DVD there is also an hour-long “Making Of” feature that is quite good.