(2004) dir. Fatih Akin
In reading about director Fatih Akin’s latest film to be released in the States, The Edge of Heaven (2007), I became interested in seeing Head-On, which I hadn’t really noted when it came out.
It’s an interesting film, a good film. I’m still absorbing it and trying to put it in perspective.
Set in Hamburg, Germany, Head-On is the story of two Turkish Germans who meet in a hospital following suicide attempts. Cahit is an aging rocker type, deeply alcoholic, who drives his car right into a building, a straight-up metaphor for his approach to life. Sibel, played by the gorgeous Sibel Kekilli, is a young woman who wants to live life but is held in cultural bondage by her traditional family, a family who is more concerned with what her suicide would mean culturally for their family rather than what it would mean emotionally. Sibel talks Cahit into marrying her to free her from this, so that she can “fuck anybody she wants”, which for her is an aspect of freedom.
Their is an air of Jim Jarmusch to the film, maybe more in the people rather than the film’s tone. It’s certainly not as spartan and quiet or slow as Jarmusch, but you can feel a bit of Stranger Than Paradise (1984) in their oddball relationship. Of course, it evolves significantly.
The film is very much about the cultural situation of Turkish Germans, both within their own culture, their relationships to modern Western culture and their own identity. Sibel is steeped in traditional Turkish culture even though she was actually born in Germany. She strives for the freedom to be herself and discover that. Cahit, on the other hand, is already where Sibel wants to be, but crushed by the death of his first wife, he has become a complete nihilist. Sibel awakens Cahit’s sense of himself, his sense of his culture. Though he was born in Turkey, his Turkish has become poor and he doesn’t know how to inhabit the world of the Turks. He hates it.
I don’t know exactly, it’s all worlds that are new to me. But the characters are compelling. I liked the film.