is not dead!" heroically self-destructive Cahit (Birol
Unel) howls to friend and potential soul mate Sibel (Sibel Kekilli)
in Fatih Akin's electrifying new German film Head-On.
lacerating love story about second-generation Turkish Germans
confronting their crossed cultures is punched up with punk nihilism,
energy and pride. Inspired by the downward spirals of artistic
disaster zones like Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison, prize-winning
writer-director Akin follows his lost lovers to the bitter end,
and Sibel meet in a German psychiatric unit. He's been brought
in after driving his car into a brick wall, in an apparent suicide
attempt. He has been out of his mind on booze and cocaine for
so many of his 40 years on the planet that the only thing left
for him is death, or rebirth.
the wild, overprotected daughter of conservative Turks in Germany,
who figured slitting her wrists might be a way of escaping them.
Her first words to Cahit are "marry me." His first
words to her are unprintable.
OK, they get married. For convenience's sake, to get her family
off her back. He's still skirting premier-league substance abuse
and living in squalor so extreme that the Siouxsie Sioux poster
on his door looks like a physical fitness ad. She gradually
moves in. Soon enough, "it's like a chick bomb exploded
a guy and card-carrying rock'n'roller, he complains, but secretly,
the sense of order is doing him good. Naturally, she's climbing
on the other train, toward the Western freedom of rowdy behavior,
one-night stands and dangerous liasons. Can they hook up somewhere
down the line and begin a life whose endgame isn't death, or
won top prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 2004, and it's
easy to see why. All the big questions are here, and all the
acting, by professional Unel, as the hurting brute Cahit, and
amateur Kekilli, as the daughter rebelling against generations
of restraint, is pretty much off the physical and emotional
picture looks fabulous -- in a disgusting, grungy way -- it's
carried along at speed by crazed music and a classic Turk chorus,
and it ends where it has to -- in Istanbul, and with the possibility
of new beginnings.
is a great picture, hard, true, unbearably sad and so full of
life and raw power it explodes off the screen. See it, before
it gets away.
Griffin is the film critic at the Montreal
Gazette where this review was originally published.