Saturday, May 19, 2012

976. Gegen die Wand/Head-On (2004)

Running Time: 118 minutes
Directed By: Fatih Akin
Written By: Fatih Akin
Main Cast: Birol Unel, Sibel Kekilli, Meltem Cumbul, Catrin Striebeck, Demir Gokgol
Click here to view the trailer


Once again the streaming portion of Netflix comes into play as I make my nightly film selection and proves once again that $8 a month to have that service is well worth your money.

Cahit Tomruk (Unel) is a depressed, Turkish-German alcoholic, who, one night while driving home, inadvertently drives his car, head on, into a wall. He is injured, but survives and finds himself in a psychiatric clinic. It is there that he meets Sibel (Kekilli), another lost soul who has attempted suicide by slashing her wrists. They first encounter one another in a hallway, where Sibel runs up to him and asks if he'll marry her. Cahit brushes her off as a nutcase and continues on his grouchy way. Later Sibel promises him a beer if he'll hear her out and explains to him that she needs to marry a man (preferably a Turkish man, since she too is Turkish) so that she can break away from her strict parents and overprotective brother and get out on her own. She promises him that if he'll just go through with the formal wedding, beyond that they'll simply live as roommates. Cahit denies the proposal at first, but later agrees to help her out. The wedding is executed and the two move in together. They're both party animals, Cahit drinking alcohol, doing lines of cocaine and spending his evening on a stool at the bar and Sibel, a promiscuous, twenty-something with many oats to sow. Every night, Cahit watches his "wife" leave the bar with a man and every morning he opens their door for her to return. After a while, however, Cahit starts to become jealous and realizes that he's falling in love with Sibel.


You know, we've seen this plot line a thousand times before, especially being churned out of the Hollywood machine. Two strangers meet, one usually wants nothing to do with the other one initially, they're somehow bound to one another and before the credits roll, they're in love. I could probably rattle of ten titles right off the top of my head that have followed this same, basic, cookie cutter formula, to a tee, for ages. Hell, Hollywood has been doing it for decades ("It Happened One Night" springs to mind). In "Head-On", however, Fatih Akin takes this same formula, adds some more coarse elements (nudity, coarse language, drug use, suicide attempts, rape, murder, a few bloody fight scenes, however short they may be), a little more structure and even kicks in some more elements to the plot. It's as if he went to the store and bought the romantic comedy outline and added some more, inventive things to it. In "Head-On" the two meet, go through a formal marriage, move in together and they go about their own, partying lifestyles until they both realize they're falling in love. Now that right there COULD HAVE been the entire film (and many a times in Hollywood, it was), but Akin didn't stop there. From there, Cahit murders a man for bad mouthing Sibel and goes to prison. While Cahit is in prison, Sibel moves to Istanbul, lives a straight and narrow existence for a little while, before falling into her old habits of using drugs. She is then raped and gives birth to a child, before Cahit is let out of prison and the two reunite...and that's not even the end.

Akin went a step further, he had an idea and knew just how to execute it. "Head-On" is a powerful film, full of powerful images and situations. It's also funny, touching, beautiful and heartbreaking. It's a romantic comedy for people who can take a little extra flare and not be offended. All the principal actors do an amazing job too, as I thoroughly enjoyed the performances of both Birol Unel and Sibel Kekilli.

RATING: 9/10  I've made all my points, so I'll cut it short. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Sometimes I wish I could just bring myself to come in here and say, "I liked it because I liked it and that's that".


May 19, 2012  1:42am

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