Saturday, 19 December 2009

Head-On (Gegen die Wand) [2004]

The epithets that might closely define Fatih Akin’s Head-On are, in my opinion, grimy, brooding and bare-assed. Akin completely stripped off any sugar-coatings while displaying human frailties and loneliness at their rawest and most naked – both literally and otherwise. The movie concerns the unlikely emotional connect that develops between two severely self-destructive Turkish immigrants residing in Germany – Cahit, an angst-ridden, hard-drinking 40-something widower living in a state of perpetual disarray, and Sibel, a suicidal young girl whose free, rebellious spirit is at complete odds with her restrictive and conservative family – both roles passionately and fearlessly performed. Despite its content of intense emotions, the movie never plays out as either sentimental or exploitative; rather, it is disturbing, downbeat, provocative and unabashedly erotic. In fact, by using a Turkish folk-song as a motif and to loosely divide the movie into various chapters, it seemed to me structurally quite similar to Lars von Triar’s devastating masterpiece Breaking the Waves. And by mixing punk and grunge rock tracks with exotic Turkish numbers in the score, Akin has managed to be unflinchingly brutal yet surprisingly humane in nearly every frame of the movie.

Director: Fatih Akin
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Romance
Language: German/Turkish
Country: Germany/Turkey


Alex said...

Excellent review! This is one of the most raw, visceral movies I've ever seen. I'm looking forward to his final entry in the "Love, Death, and the Devil" trilogy, following this and The Edge of Heaven.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Alex. This is my first tryst with Fatih Akin's movie. I guess the most logical step for me would be to watch his The Edge of Heaven next.

Alex said...

The Edge of Heaven is pretty good, but a little overly ambiguous. Then again, I watched it without English subtitles and my German isn't perfect, so it's likely I just missed a few points. I hope you like it!

Im Juli, one of his earlier films, is very good as well. It's a "two unlikely people on a road trip together" kind of movie, and it's a lot more lighthearted!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Alex for the suggestion. In fact you've done me a double benefit. I'm now, as part of my Project 2000, watching all the good and great movies from 2000-2009 that I haven't watched so that I can come up with my 'Best of..' List sometime in early 2010. And I see that Im Juli has just managed to make the cut as it belongs to the year 2000. So its now officially in my 'To Watch ASAP' list :)