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Head-On (2004) - Fatih Akin

Related: alcohol - eroticism in mainstream film - suicide - drugs in film - drama - 2004 films - love German language cinema

Head-On (2004) - Fatih Ak?n [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Easily the best German language film of the 2000s


I saw Gegen Die Wand (English title Head-On) at the free shows of Zomer van Antwerpen. This German/Turkish drama film concerns a man and a woman who meet in the hospital after a suicide attempt. She proposes a marriage of convenience threatening to re-commit suicide if he does not consent.

The uncle is hilarious. The love story ends unhappily but is beautiful and uplifting, a welcome change to my usual darker fare.

The last cinematic portrayal of Turkey I had seen was Alan Parker's Midnight Express (1978) and Head-On represents Turkey in a rather more friendly way.

The soundtrack's highlight is Wendy Rene's Stax classic After Laughter (Come Tears), the only piece of black music in an otherwise 'white' collection of late seventies and early eighties punk and new wave. [Aug 2006]

Amazon plot keywords: Female Frontal Nudity | Stabbing | Attempted Suicide | Tradition | Male Nudity | Sex | Accidental Killing | Accident | Drugs | Family | Haircut | Hairdresser

Is it a romantic comedy? Yes and no. In the words of Noel Megahey:

The premise [the marriage of convenience] is intriguing, the characters are interesting as is their circumstances, but the film does then tend to slip into the predictable Green Card formula that has little to do with their backgrounds – a marriage of convenience, each of the partners are free to do what they like, sleep with who they like, but have to maintain the appearance of being a married couple. The inevitable tensions creep into the relationship as, not unexpectedly, there is an undeniable attraction between Cahit and Sibel – but they are unable to sleep together, since consummation of the marriage will really make them husband and wife. Such a situation is usually played as a romantic comedy, and while there are one or two incongruously funny moments around the unlikelihood of such a union (particularly in Cahit’s visit to Sibel’s parents to ask for her hand in marriage), the characters are so wild, volatile, violent and unpredictable in their behaviour that the routine plot is rather subverted, often to quite shocking effect. --Noel Megahey via http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=58267

The reason for my sudden interest in romantic comedies being Daniel Shaw's remarks in my article on ambivalence which says:

Like tragedy, the horror genre generates an ambivalent reaction in its appreciators. Our enjoyment of horror is clearly more problematic than, say, indulging in the pleasures of a good romantic comedy. -- Daniel Shaw

And in my current mood - and despite of always having maintained that I want to celebrate the darker sides of the human condition since that has always been my predisposition - it may be better to stick to films such as Gegen die Wand, because while obviously not as happy as for example As Good as it Gets or Serendipity, it is certainly more cheerful as the recently viewed The Machinist with a feelgood factor of about 1/10.

Finally, Cahit reminds me of Leaving Las Vegas - the character portrayed by Nicholas Cage.

Rating: psychological realism 8/10, oddity value 6/10, feelgood factor 8/10

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