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With: Sibel Kekilli, Birol Ünel
Written by: Fatih Akin
Directed by: Fatih Akin
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: German and Turkish with English subtitles
Running Time: 118
Date: 02/12/2004

Head-On (2005)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Young Turks

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In Fatih Akin's earlier film In July, the German-born director took an old-fashioned roadmovie romance (a variation on It Happened One Night) and gave it a craggy, sun-baked sweetness. From thefirst 40 minutes of his new film, Head-On, it looks like he's going to do the same -- until he blindsides youwith something new. It's a strange effect; he gets us to relax and look forwardto something comfortable and routine, but then snatches it away and deliverssomething darker. Probably the first reaction is to resist, but that would be amistake. Head-On is one powerfulfilm. Meeting at a psychiatric clinic after they've both attempted suicide, abeautiful young woman, Sibel (Sibel Kekilli) proposes marriage to a shaggy,sad-faced, older man, Cahit (Birol √únel). They're both of Turkish descent, andSibel figures that she can use this man, who picks up empty bottles for aliving, to get away from her overbearing, traditional family. Of course, the twowill fall in love for real. But when Cahit defends his wife's honor and attacksone of her former lovers, he goes to jail. Sibel wanders the city in a daze,throwing herself vacantly into unwholesome and dangerous situations. Akin'sfocus is always on the two characters, drawing out fully-rounded emotionalcenters for both. The storytelling flows naturally from this strong core. Ithelps that both actors burst with presence; √únel appeared previously in InJuly, but Kekilli makes her debut here withastonishing force. Head-On alsomakes great use of nearly forgotten 1980s goth-punk music (the Sisters ofMercy, etc.) and it has the attitude to match.

DVD Details: Strand's excellent new DVD comes with a very good 30-minute behind-the-scenes documentary that was actually filmed on location; it's not just the usual clips-and-talking-heads show. Other extras include the theatrical trailer, deleted scenes, outtakes and trailers for other Strand titles (Who Killed Bambi?, The Other Side of the Street, Primo Amore and Open My Heart).

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