/ Gegen die Wand (18)
Written and Directed by Fatih Akin
Screening at FACT from 11th-17th March 2005
There are quite a few films about exiles struggling to establish their
own identity in a foreign land, but not many have quite the savage nihilism
of Head-On. As two Turkish immigrants search for freedom and meaning in
the bars and back streets of Hamburg, they are drawn into an entanglement
that will define their lives.
Couples who meet in mental institutions are never going to have the most
stable of relationships, but that’s exactly where the respective
worlds of Cahit (Birol Ünel) and Sibel (Sibel Güner) collide.
He is in his late thirties, and looks as though he hasn’t bothered
to wash himself since his wife died, whenever that was. She is about fifteen
years younger and is trying to escape her devoutly Muslim family. They
agree to a marriage of convenience, she cleans his flat and cooks his
dinner whilst he provides her ticket out of her cultural background. But
of course, things are rarely that simple, and they fall in love with a
violent intensity matched only by the dark and brooding soundtrack.
Head-On is nothing if not impassioned, as the two self-hating, self-destructive
‘heroes’ spiral towards their inevitable fate. The tide of
depravity, despair and desolation is occasionally broken-up by the odd
lightly comic moment and some Turkish love songs, but this only serves
to throw sharper relief on the agony of the lovers. Having said all that,
the film does run out of energy two thirds of the way through, before
fizzling out disappointingly, but then life can be like that.