Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Head-On (2005)

Solidly crafted sorta-love story about two self-destructive Turks living in Germany who enter into a marriage of convenience. The narrative is propulsive even as it's clearly designed as a series of incidences; the two characters careen from one incident to another like a marble in a wind tunnel. Excellent acting, as well, especially from this Sibel Kekilli chick, who projects such confidence that you'd swear it wasn't her feature film debut. (It wasn't, as it turns out, but that's another story.) Writer/director Fatih Akin really gets into the sense of social displacement that these two characters feel -- as ethnic, they don't fit into the German system, but being German citizens (natural-born, in Sibel's case), they don't fit into the Turkish system. They're united by mutual outsiderdom. Akin's direction is flashy but appropriately so, and he even manages to make the film's pop-music cues come off well. Overuse of pop music on soundtracks is a pet peeve of mine, but Akin makes it work. (There's particularly good usage of Depeche Mode's "I Feel You" and the Sisters of Mercy's "Temple of Love".) All of the above, though, does belie the film's status as a debut film -- it feels determined, not organic. As a result, the film's emotional content is more muted than it should be. Also, it is basically a series of incidences held together by common characters. Imperfect, but still a promising debut.

Grade: B

[NOTE, 3/15/06: As (formerly) pointed out by Pacze Moj in the comments, this isn't Akin's debut film -- a quick glance at the IMDb points out that he's fairly well traveled. What can I say, I'm an asshole. Sorry folks. Of course, now I'm wondering if I wasn't a bit too lenient with the film...]


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