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Cinema Junkie by Beth Accomando

The Edge of Heaven

The Edge of Heaven
Hanna Schygulla is one of six fine performers in The Edge of Heaven (Strand Releasing)

Hollywood was smart enough to clear the runway for the Batman landing. All mainstream studios served up were strong counterprogramming like Mamma Mia! for women and Space Chimps for kids. But at least those films had enough studio backing to let those demographics know that options to The Dark Knight would be available. But over at the Landmark art houses there's some counter-programming as well but their new openings may just get lost among this weekend. That's too bad because both Tell No One and The Edge of Heaven (opening July 18 at Landmark's Ken Cinema) are worth checking out. The Edge of Heaven is the fifth feature by Fatih Akin, but the first I've had a chance to see. But now I'm eager to seek out the others.

In reading about German-born Turkish writer-director Akin's other films, I can see that he's interested in cross cultural tales, most specifically those involving Turks and Germans. His lastest outing concerns four Turks and a pair of Germans whose lives fatefully intersect. The two driving forces here are love and tragedy, love bringing characters together and tragedy forcing them to connect with others. Dividing his film into three parts, Akin gives us fair warnings of the tragedies by labeling two chapters Yeter's Death and Lotte's Death , with the final chapter bearing a more ambiguous title of From the Other Side .

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Although all the performances are top notch, it is great to see Fassbinder favorite Hanna Schygulla (remember her from The Marriage of Maria Braun ?) again. Akin keeps his complex tale moving with careful efficiency and rich humanity.

The Edge of Heaven (unrated and in German, Turkish, English with English subtitles) serves up a tale of two divergent cultures and the individuals who reach across those cultural lines to connect.

Companion viewing: The Marriage of Maria Braun, Solino, Head On