Turkish-German director Fatih Akin broadens his canvas and quietens his tone for his follow-up to the fiery and intimate ‘Head-On’ (2004). His concern is again with movement between Turkey and Germany – and its consequences for the individual – although this time his enquiry takes on a cross-generational edge, as well as a more thoughtful and maudlin one: we’re never very far from death.
Coincidence is Akin’s scheme as he separately presents, via two chapters, the lives of an estranged mother and daughter. Yeter (Nursel Köse) is a prostitute in Bremen who makes an arrangement to live with elderly Ali (Tuncel Kurtiz), another lost Turk, although he accidentally kills her when she threatens to leave.
Meanwhile, her daughter, Ayten (Nurgül Yesilçay) is a dissident on the run in Hamburg who makes friends with a German woman, Lotte (Patrycia Ziolkowska), who’s willing to go to any length to help her. Events move to Istanbul when Ayten is repatriated and Ali’s son, Nejat (Baki Davrak), a professor of German, arrives in the city looking to find the daughter of his father’s late partner-cum-escort.
As in ‘Head-On’, fate dominates proceedings, but there’s no escaping the contrivances of Akin’s script. Maybe that’s the point – the loose grip his players have on where they’re going – but it detracts a little from a film that is otherwise thoughtful and engaging, even if you miss the up-close study of ‘Head-On’ amid the film’s abundant characters and detail.