Gegen die Wand (Head On,
by Tony Medley
This is a sick, amoral, story
of two lowlife losers. Sounds a lot like “Sideways,” doesn’t it? Well,
it’s not. “Sideways” is a Donald Duck cartoon compared with this.
Cahit Tomruk (Birol
is a Turk living in Hamburg, and a bum, an angry, dirty, disheveled,
unshaven bum. And he’s a drunken bum. And a bum who does drugs. And he
lives in an apartment that looks like it could be a pigsty if he cleaned
it up a little. Sibel Güner (Sibel Kikelli) is a young Turk from a middle
class Muslim family. Sibel’s father thinks she has disgraced the family,
either because she’s not married, or because she’s fooling around. Her
brother broke her nose because he feels she has disgraced the family.
However, Kikelli’s appearance
caused a huge controversy when the film was released in Germany in 2003.
While this is her mainline film debut, her appearance in this film
resulted in the discovery that she is a veteran of hard core porn films,
which scandalized the Hamburg Muslim community.
Sibel meets Cahit at a
psychological hospital for people who have attempted suicide, which both
have done, and immediately asks him to marry her. She’s not in love, but
she wants to get away from her family “and sleep with a lot of men,” and
the only way to get away from her family is to marry a Turk, which is the
only type of person her family will approve. The one person she doesn’t
want to sleep with, however, is Cahit. In one of the many leaps of faith
asked of us by writer-director Faith Akin (of Turkish heritage, born in
Hamburg) has him agree. We’ve already been introduced to Cahit as a rude,
cantankerous, violent, selfish lout, who is abusive to women with whom he
is involved. There is no explanation as to why Cahit would do something so
monumental as to marry a stranger out of the goodness of his heart with
absolutely nothing in it for him, not even sex. While Sibel’s character is
possible, I couldn’t conceive of Cahit agreeing to marry her, going to the
extreme of cleaning up and going to meet her family. But he does, and with
this feckless basis the story starts. The question is, will he drag her
down or will she raise him up, or visa-versa, or neither?
What the 31 year-old Akin is
studying here is that people who are intent on self destruction cannot be
stopped from their goal, no matter how they are raised. Akin clearly
wanted to shock his audience by the brutality and dirtiness of the scenes
he films and the incomprehensibility of the relationship between a filthy
bum and a middle class girl. There are many other things in the film that
are logically incomprehensible and go totally unexplained. Akin throws in
a scene of an assault on Sibel in the last third of the film that comes
out of nowhere and is then forgotten and unexplained.
This is not an enjoyable movie.
In many parts it doesn’t make sense. It’s ugly. It’s dirty. It’s low
class. But it is damned intriguing. (In German, with subtitles).
January 30, 2005