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4.5 out of 5 stars21
4.5 out of 5 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2012
I first saw this film in the cinema when it came out, and couldn't forget it. I finally bought the DVD and I wasn't disappointed upon 2nd viewing of the film.

The characters are raw and strong, yet fragile, and you can't help but will them to fall in love with each other. I love the main actor's voice and presence, and the passion in the film is almost palpable.

It gives you an insight into the culture of the Germano-Turkish community, and the setting - half in Germany, then in Turkey is nothing if not interesting.

The follow-up film, The Edge of Heaven, doesn't give answers as to what happened after the end of this film, but it's still definitely worth seeing.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 10 August 2008
This fierce drama about the doomed love of two Turkish immigrants in Germany looks like an Ottoman remake of Sid and Nancy. Punctuated by the songs of a female singer and her band in Istanbul, it tells the story of Cahit (Birol Unel) a middle aged drunk and widower who has just attempted suicide by crashing his car into a wall head on (hence the title). In a hospital ward in Hamburg he meets the twenty one years old Sibel, who has recently tried to commit suicide (nicely performed by porn actress Sibel Kekilli), and they soon agree to a fake, sexless marriage in order that she can escape her conservative family. While they both initially agree that this will be a marriage of convenience, hot tempered Cahit will eventually be unable to stand the jealousy caused by Sibel's promiscuous life. A violent tragedy will soon ensue. Another great film about the difficulties faced by immigrants in Europe.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2005
This is a stunning film, sensitive and full of surprises. A beautiful rendering of people near the edge! Everything here is engaging, the characters, plot and cinematography, the soundtrack is pretty damn good too! One of the best films I've seen in a long time.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2005
"HEAD-ON" (Gegen die Wand) describes "The Clash of Civilizations" (Samuel Huntington) with the patterns of a ROMEO-and-JULIA-story: a ROMEO ("Cahit Tomruk" played by Birol Uenel) and JULIA ("Sibel Guner" played by Sibel Kekilli), influenced by the circumstances of our present age, are suffering under their identity-pain,
caught in their specific story of woe: the differences between German and Turkish culture, between living in the red-light-area of big cities (Hamburg, Berlin, Istanbul), however born in small rural villages, tattered between disciplined middle class, drunken underdogs or fundamental Islamic believers beyond all social classes.
In the beginning Romeo and Julia are in the protecting arms of a psychiatric hospital. But Cahit and Sibel prefer to break out. Unteachable they return to their red-light-districts. Back in their life of drugs and suicide, violence and one-night-stands there is a climax, that will render Romeo into a phase of heavy jealousy: He kills an admirer of his Sibel-Julia. Now he is in prison - and Sibel-Julia leaves Germany and escapes to Istanbul.
At first in the helping hands of her middle-class sister (a hotel manager), Sibel again (the actress Kekilli is a former porn-star and plays it well) carries on her run-away-identity: back to the entertaining whiskey-bar harbor-area of Istanbul - not an inch better than the German Hamburg Reeperbahn-scene: drugs, sex, self-suicidal violence.
Her Romeo, after his prison time, speeds via taxi to Istanbul - only to find his Julia deeply changed by a masquerade of middle class behaviour: no long hairs, intellectual glasses, no emotions, with a hidden, frozen soul, married to a middle class man. What he wished to find had gone.
So he mournfully leaves Istanbul and crawls back into his very roots: a little Turkish town, where once he was born. An odyssey of finding oneself, though irreparable splinted up in the "Clash of Civilizations" ...
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2007
I came across this film by accident when it was shown on BBC 4. Thought the premise was interesting so decided to go along for the ride. So glad I did. Darkly, depressingly romantic and totally compelling. Cahit broods like an aged Michael Hutchence throughout. Highly recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2009
This is a blistering and intense film from German-Turkish director Akim, but as in "Edge of Heaven" he seems to distance us from the action in the way he frames the story. Each of four segments is prefaced by a verse of a traditional Turkish gypsy folksong performed on the Istanbul waterfront by Fanfare Ciocarla. They also provide a coda at the end, when after their performance they stand up and give a rather stiff, formal bow. Given that the soundtrack of the characters' lives in the rest of the movie is provided by contemporary Turkish disco, the effect is disconcerting, and you have to ask, Why?

I think the answer is twofold; one is to connect the particular lives of these very modern, damaged characters with an ages-old tradition of universal suffering for Love, but the other is to put the relationship in the context of traditional Turkish macho culture, which is savaged by the film.

Akim is a very political director, and his recurring themes as an exile are "What is Turkishness?" and a dissection of why it is impossible for him to live in Turkey. With the first thread, one of the main characters, the girl Sibel, comes from a family which has hung on to its Turkish values in Germany. A spoilt 20-year-old with an appetite for life, she is desperate to escape them, and this is the trigger of the movie's plot, when she persuades Cahit into an arranged marriage. He has lost his Turkishness, passes as German, but is aimless, drifting, frozen, and in a dead-end job as a glass collector in a club. He lives in chaos and squalor, and blows his money on booze and drugs. A first wife who left him haunts his dreams.

As he is gradually drawn into a relationship with the shallow Sibel, he regains his Turkishness. His very language improves, he rediscovers his culture playing cards with his traditional in-laws (though committing a cultural faux-pas in suggesting they might be better having sex with their wives than visiting a brothel). Finally his journey takes him back to his birthplace, Mersin, on the bus alone.

Akim loves-hates this traditional culture, and the tension is what gives the film its resonance, its ambiguity and its life. While regaining the culture, Cahit also regains the psychopathic possessiveness which is also such a feature of the culture. From being indifferent to the sexual voraciousness of Sibel, he goes to killing for an insult to his wife.

The culture also gets both characters beaten up, her almost killed. The woman gets all the blame, gets the rejection of her family, while the men are filled with maudlin self-justification. These two characters are both self-destructive, but eventually make their own accommodation with their "Turkishness" to achieve if not happiness, at least a kind of peace. She as a mother in a marriage arranged to save her family's honour, he as someone whose ghosts are laid to rest. To this limited extent this is an optimistic film.

It is also filled with extreme violence, and very graphic sex, though never in an exploitative way. The principals are extremely good, and their faces, often in extreme close-up, will live with you a long time - his gaunt and sad, hers almost hugging a private joke.

There are some difficulties in the film. Other performances are uneven; Akim makes no concessions to foreign audiences, and some of the references and nuances will be lost on non-Turks. The editing is edgy and abrupt, dislocating, and at points the plot does not quite hang together. But Akim is never less than compulsive viewing.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
One of my favorite movies of recent years. Amazingly moving, bleak, sexy, funny, punky. Great acting, wonderful, simple photography, cool editing choices, and terrific music.

An alcoholic, self-destructive Turk living in Germany agrees to marry young, borderline crazy, free spirited Turkish girl looking to get away from her grasping, tradition bound family. This simple plot leads to a relationship of amazing complexity, and a love story of joy, humor, and heartbreak. That's partly because filmmaker Akin approaches familiar situations with such a unique, playful and fresh eye, and partly because, along with his two lead actors he has created two unforgettable characters - rich in contradictions and confusion, like all of us.

Nothing in their obvious personal experience is anything like mine. I've never been an immigrant, an alcoholic, or lost and self-destructive. Yet, with amazing ease I felt let into this world, and found the human connections underneath, the things we all share. Suddenly the differences in the human experience seemed much less important than the similarities. And, to me, this is the real genius Akin has shown in his last few films. By being so specific and real about a world, he, paradoxically makes it universal and accessible.

I urge you to seek it out.
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on 21 July 2015
a very intense yet beautiful piece, a strong story of love, redemption and finding inner peace, requires repeated viewing as it is a multilayered witty intelligent moving film
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2009
Head On is an amazing film. Its moving, powerful, deep, shocking and even very funny in some parts. A total rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish. The dark and harrowing tale of love between two disfunctional people, is a true gem and is of the highest calibur of film making possible. Not one to watch with you're mother, but definately one of the best films to watch with the girlfriend.......... a must see, a must buy, 10/10.
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on 27 March 2011
An excellent film! It shows how difficult it still is in a free and open society to cross the boundaries of Diaspora and break away from its traditions.
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