Thursday, 10 November 2011

Sibel Kekilli in "Gegen die Wand" [2004 Germany, Turkey]

It was a stroke of genius on the part of Fatih Akin when he cast Sibel Kekilli in his film, "Gegen die Wand" [Eng. Title: Head-On], a poignant romantic drama. It was as if Ms. Kekilli was born to play the role - you don't see an actress in the film, just the character. She would tell us later how much she could relate to some of her own personal experiences growing up within a Turkish family in Germany. She justifiably won a bucket full of awards the following year for her performance, and is now an established actress in world cinema. I'm purposefully avoiding her earlier work as it is irrelevant to this blog. Besides, we haven't even started talking about the film yet!

Cahit, a washed-up, 40-something 'bum' meets and marries pretty twenty year old Sibel under bizarre circumstances. It was meant to be a marriage of convenience, so that Sibel could get out of her overbearing family environment. The rest of the film is a story universal to generation 'X'. It beautifully captures the dilemma caused by reluctance of people to acknowledge feelings for one another and commit to a relationship - a self-preservation mechanism common among many. But just when Cahit and Sibel realise their feelings for one another, the drama begins. Cahit ends up serving time for manslaughter, and Sibel flees to Istanbul to escape from her family's wrath. By the time Cahit is released and comes looking for Sibel, a lot of water has flown under the bridge...

It is almost a perfect film. Because it is full of energy and has exquisite rhythm, like a masterfully choreographed dance. The pace, the timing of dialogues, the screenplay, the edits, the careful cinematography, and the eclectic soundtrack combine to tell a riveting story full of passion and love. It also has its little flaws here and there, but they could all be forgiven for its other strong virtues. Add to this, the performances by central actors are way above average. I saw the film first on TV, channel-hopping until bumping into it by chance - I couldn't get up until the end credits. This is a magnificent piece of cinema, and therefore, Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link

Compilation: Sibel Kekilli and Catrin Striebeck

Sibel Kekilli and Catrin Striebeck in Gegen die Wand

Scene Guide:
  • No nudity but sexy - Sibel and Cahit are married but live like platonic flatmates, and after she persuades him to take her dancing - he watches her being approached by a few young men - she'd later leave with one of them telling Cahit that she's getting laid.
  • A drunk Cahit is woken up by his ex-wife's friend Maren and they spend the night together. She compliments him later on his lovemaking. Maren is played by Catrin Striebeck.
  • Awesome scene as Sibel and Cahit decide to get to know each other better - he had been treating her as little more than a maid until then. But just when he's about to impregnate her, she stops him, reminding that by making love, it would be the consummation of their marriage and they'll become husband and wife for real. Their frustration says it all.
  • Sibel, desperately lonely in Istanbul, decides to give herself a fix after an argument with her cousin and goes to a bar, offering the barman whatever he wanted in return. She later gets drunk and passes out. He helps himself to whatever he can and then mercilessly asks her to leave.
  • After release from prison, Cahit comes looking for Sibel. But a lot had changed -Sibel's now married, and even has a child. She meets him when her husband goes away on business. And they finally make love.
  • Sibel asks Cahit what he intends to do henceforth. He tells her that he wants to settle in his home town, and asks if she, along with the child would join him. They agree to meet at the bus station at an appointed time the following day (I've left some non-nude moments of silence in between some scenes as it makes no sense without it).


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