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It’s easy to think we’ve seen all this before: the Turkish community in Hamburg, a clash of cultures, stern Islamic parents and rebellious youngsters… The same old deal. However, dismiss this movie at your peril since such cultural displacement isn’t its be-all and end-all, merely the starting point for a narcotically vivid love story shaped by wilful volatility as much as the pain of exile.

Leather-clad late-thirtysomething loner Cahit (Birol Ünel, who looks like someone left a Turkish Iggy Pop in a skip) is stuck in a nowhere job at a Hamburg rock club, so it’s hardly a surprise he ‘accidentally’ drives his car straight into a brick wall. Recovering in a psychiatric hospital brings another fateful collision with the beautiful but obviously troubled Sibel (Sibel Kekilli), who bears the scars of conflict with her conservative family. She’ll do anything so she can take drugs and fuck who she wants, and marrying fellow Turk Cahit is one way out. If he’ll agree to tie the knot for show, the deal is that she’ll deliver wifely domesticity without consummating the union.

It sounds terribly rational, but she’s a little bit mental, he’s a little bit rock ’n’ roll, and pretty soon there are tears, blood and rage before bedtime, romantic redemption by no means prevailing against bitter experiences of self-destructive uncertainty. Cannily, the film sets its authentic scuzzball ‘cool’ in ironic context by inter-cutting traditional Turkish ballads filmed before a postcard Bosphorous, suggesting that these two have travelled so far their only safe haven may be with each other. Both the lead actors absolutely live these roles, as Akin’s punchy yet astute direction whirls us in their substance-fuelled passions while somehow allowing us the distance to ponder the explosive interaction of socio-cultural circumstances and personal fallibilities. It’ll put a lump in your throat and a knot in your stomach. This is max-strength film-making you can’t afford to miss.

Release details

Rated: 18
Release date: Friday February 18 2005
Duration: 120 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Fatih Akin
Cast: Hermann Lausse
Meltem Cumbal
Cem Akin
Birol Ünel
Catrin Striebeck
Mehmet Kurtulus
Aysel Iscan
Sibel Kekilli
Gebelhoff
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Dan

Birol Unal shines as much as Sibel Kekili doesn't. Sometimes her acting is all right but mostly, it is disturbingly bad. She is brave with all the difficult scenes but not as brave as Unal who is wonderfully convincing. That's what I call a true actor. Kekili distracted me more with her horrible acting than anything else.

e

not a good film with a weak sibel kekili throughout most of the scenes.