Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Edge of Heaven: Lesbians!

Don't be fooled by this article's title. The Edge of Heaven isn't only about lesbians. It's also about prostitution, child murderers, substance abuse, and women's prisons. It's also also about redemption, second chances, and staying true to thine self. 

The Edge of Heaven paints portraits of regret, death, and hope. Told in three parts, Yeter's Death, Lotte's Death and The Edge of Heaven, the film weaves between three families lives as they intersect and grow apart; help and hurt one another. A proud father loses all respect from his son after an accidental murder. A mother wishes desperately to get back in touch with her politically radical daughter. A daughter disobeys her mothers best wishes in the name of love. They are stories of human nature at its best and saddest. They are stories in a great film.

The reason I paid Edge of Heaven any mind was finding out Fatih Akin, the Turkish-German director, was taking part in the series of shorts in upcoming New York, I Love You. I wanted to know which directors were considered interesting for me by Netflix's careful analysis. His films came up as four stars worthy, and Edge of Heaven happened to be available to watch instantly. So I did. 

I'm finding that I like the different-chapters-for-different-stories approach to storytelling in films lately. My best examples of this method are Amores Perros, Babel and Citizen Dog. Not that examples help me understand what I like about this method. It feels like it enriches the story somehow. It gives time to make connections, and understand the deeper impacts the characters are all having on one another. Whatever it is that appeals to me, it appeals to me in a big way. 

All the characters are bilingual at the least. I think two are trilingual. They need to be, as their stories unfold in both Germany and Turkey. Its really satisfying to hear people in the movies know how to speak other languages when you yourself only know the most base of high school French. It gives me faith that everyone in the world will be able to understand me, and I can sit back and do nothing. Plus, it stimulates your mind to know more than one language. I like watching characters with stimulated minds. 

Knowing more than one language is a minor plus for the characters. The passion they put into their roles is what strikes me the most. I never realize how important it is for an actor to make you believe in their role until I see a dreadfully unrealistic performance, or a stunning, moving, feels like I'm watching a documentary caliber performance. Edge of Heaven has the latter, six characters strong not including the supporting cast. 

Camera work is strong, too. Very strong. Shallow focus keeps cropping up in amazing movies, and my affinity for a nice crisp clear view of everything in the frame is waning. And the lighting. The lighting in this film, I tell ya. The director of photography Rainer Klausmann knows how to enhance an emotion or two, I can assure you. He's worked on at least one other Akin film, Head-On, and I look forward to that for to see his and Akin's glorious teamwork in action yet again.

Fatih Akin is an actor, too? Look at the Renaissance man over there. Alright, I've covered my bases for Edge of Heaven. Worth seeing for everything and the lesbians. 

 - Eric T. Voigt, Now I'm Listening to Electrelane!

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