A man without a country or a man with two countries? That's one of the many questions posed by The Edge of Heaven, Faith Akim's wonderful film about a world where borders are so porous we don't know who we really are anymore. Born in Hamburg, Germany of Turkish parents, Akim keeps returning to themes of geographical and spiritual dislocation. But this time he's built the whole movie around the invisible strands that bind us together, connections we feel but can't necessarily explain. If that sounds kind of highfalutin, rest assured that Akim has both feet on the ground, one in Turkey and one in Germany.
The movie comes in three chapters, the first two of which announce the death of a major character. Knowing this only heightens the sense that fate has its own plans for us; it giveth and it taketh away. Yeter (Nursel Kose), a middle-aged Turkish prostitute plying her trade in Bremen, is the first victim. But before that she's briefly taken in by a Turkish retiree (Tuncel Kurtiz) whose son (Baki Davrak), perhaps out of guilt, perhaps out of love, returns to Turkey to look for her daughter (Nurgal Yesilcay). That opens up a whole new storyline that takes us back to Germany, then back to Turkey.
The multilinear structure can't help but remind us of Babel, but Akim doesn't weigh his story down with so much cosmic significance. He just wants to show us that we're not as divided as we might think we are, that we're capable of crossing borders without running into problems with customs. Even this sounds highfalutin, but Akim, a great storyteller, doesn't lead with his themes, he leads with his characters. They tell him where they need to go, what they need to do. It's only afterwards that they seem to have been drawn together, like drifters huddled around a campfire.
The Edge of Heaven, Sundance