Runtime: 122 minutes
Director: Fatih Akin
Starring: Baki Davrak, Nurgül Yeşilçay
So first, here’s the trailer in German:
And, if you prefer, in English:
(There’s actually not that much dialogue in this one – and all of it is in English – so no subtitles!)
Okay, so I got this summary from imdb: A Turkish man travels to Istanbul to find the daughter of his father’s former girlfriend. I mean, it’s short, but that is basically the film. Now, there may be spoilers below (though I’ve tried to not spoil anything), so watch out for that.
Things I liked:
- not everything in this film was resolved. Sometimes this was frustrating, but mostly it was good, because it’s a reflection of real life. The largest issues were left hanging; with the knowledge that they would be resolved (most likely) once the film was over, but the audience doesn’t need to see it.
- there are three parts to the film and each has a different title. The first two parts refer to the deaths of two important characters, before we’ve even met them. At first I was a little annoyed because giving it away like that might take away from the impact. It doesn’t. You still feel the same way about the characters, but everything is a little sadder and a little more on edge, because you know what is going to happen to them – though you don’t know how.
- this is the second film in what was a proposed trilogy by Fatih Akin (I don’t know what happened but I don’t think he made the third film), the first being Gegen die Wand. Like Gegen die Wand, Auf der anderen Seite deals with Turks and Germans and a little with Turkish immigrants in Germany, but unlike Gegen die Wand, that isn’t the whole point of the film. A lot more of this film takes part in Turkey and it covers a lot more Turkish attitudes and issues without really focussing on immigration and racism. It’s interesting to see a different take.
- although there is some violence in this film, it is not unnecessarily brutal. Two of the characters die and it is shocking – but it’s not shocking because there’s blood everywhere. The deaths themselves are quiet, but that makes their impact even stronger.
- three languages! Even in German, there were subtitles because the film uses a combination of Turkish, German and English – and each language is used a lot.
Things I disliked:
- the passage of time is weird. There is a part with Lotte and Ayten where I thought only a few days or weeks had passed, but then Lotte’s mother reveals that they’d been working on one of the problems for over a year. I think that’s the point, but it makes relationships feel much more superficial than they should, because it seems like everyone barely knows each other.
- not so much something I disliked, but although it’s nice not everything is resolved, the fact that Nejat never actually finds Ayten is suuuuuuuper frustrating, particularly because Akin decides to show a lot of moments where they’ve all been within feet of each other.
I thought I might share my favourite scene and quote with you all too, because I really did enjoy this film.
My favourite scene was when Lotte’s mother, Suzanne, is in the hotel room in Istanbul. The camera has been placed in the corner of the room, kind of like where a CCTV camera would be, and we see her travel through her grief – she cries, she screams, she drinks, she sleeps- It’s brutal and kind of raw and we’ve already watched two characters die, but this was the saddest point for me.
And this is my favourite quote (or exchange, really): “Ich weiß noch, wie ich meinen Vater fragte, ob er mich auch opfern würde. Ich hatte als Kind Angst vor dieser Geschichte. Meine Mutter war früh verstorben, wissen Sie? ”
“Und was hat Ihr Vater geantwortet?”
“Er sagte, er würde sich sogar Gott zum Feind machen, um mich zu beschützen.”
(They’ve been talking about the story of God telling Abraham to sacrifice his son).
“I remember how I asked my father whether he would sacrifice me too. When I was a child, I was scared of this story. You know, my mother died early on.”
“And what did your father say?”
“He said, he’d take even God on as an enemy to protect me.”
I’ll give this film a rating of 8/10. I really enjoyed it – much more than I thought I would – and I think it’s an interesting addition to German-language cinema.