I first saw Head On at a small International film festival shortly after it's theatrical release, and fell in love with it almost immediately! This is by far the best move if the year, and a strong contender for my top 5 movies of all time. It's wide ranging appeal, from the intellectual international crowd who will drool over the interpersonal relationships of the Turkish-German main characters and the cultural aspects of two young, and slightly twisted people dealing with their overly traditional families, to a younger crowd who can appreciate this movie as simply a rocking kick-in-the-pants punk love story, I'm convinced that nearly everyone who sees this movie will love it!! 5 Stars, would give it more if I could! And let's not forget a shout out to Sybel Kekilli, who is one of the most beautiful women on the planet!"
Hitting the wall . . .
Ronald Scheer | Los Angeles | 04/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For viewers of Hollywood films about marriages of convenience that turn into romantic comedies, this is not another one of those. Which is not to say that the kind of romance that develops between the two central characters doesn't have far reaching effects - living happily together ever after not being among them. Each in his way is redeemed by love, and the viewer is taken along on a long, long journey with many turns, often difficult to absorb. If anything, the film represents the painful conflict at the heart of many Turks living as expatriates in Europe.
The "head-on" car crash that brings the two protagonists together is also about a whiplash collision of cultures that are not only separated by a great distance but also by centuries. It is not surprising that in these circumstances both characters are driven to extremes of behavior. That Cahit and Sibel survive the ordeals they have gone through is partly the result of what they begin to feel for each other, but also important is a return to Turkey where each finds some measure of personal integrity.
The performances in this film are breathtaking. Birol ?nel as Cahit is a Turkish Klaus Kinski with the mercurial "good looks" of Mick Jagger. He is a stormy presence on the screen (and apparently on the set as well) and delivers a disturbing portrayal of self-destructiveness. Sibel Kekilli's peformance is equally astonishing. The DVD has no director's commentary (which would have been interesting), but it includes a number of deleted scenes and out-takes, and an informative and entertaining "making of" featurette by an intern who worked on the film."
Incredible. Heartbreaking. Fierce. Indescribable
Andy Orrock | Dallas, TX | 02/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm sure more than a few US moviegoers were left a bit flummoxed when the 2005 "Top Ten" lists started coming out from "important" reviewers and - lo and behold - there sat a German film about Turks smack-dab in the mix and often in the pole position.
Believe the hype. This fierce, almost indescribable film will blow you away with its intensity and ineffably heartbreaking ending. The beautiful Sibel Kekilli launches a film career like she was shot out of a cannon (well, her non-"adult" film career, if you catch my drift). Birol Ünel puts on a jaw-dropping performance. Director/Screenwriter Fatih Akin is brilliant. Full stop. This movie took the Best Director and Best Film awards at the 2004 European Film Awards.
The German title of this film is "Gegen die Wand" which means "Against the Wall." The English title is almost better. Even director Akin has said so. "Head-On" has connotations at two or three different levels."
Harsh, Gritty, Tough...Very Moving Film!
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"'Gegen die Wand' in German, 'Duvara karsi' in Turkish, or 'HEAD-ON' in English is an explosive drama written and directed by Fatih Akin, a movie that may be tough to watch, but a movie that has enormous impact. While other films have successfully addressed the particular problems that the immigrant Turkish community in Germany face, few have come as close to examining all sides of the on-going issues of displacement and the effects of familial dispersal in the face of a new culture.
Cahit (Birol Ünel) is a thirty-something lost soul, drinking and snorting himself into oblivion over the loss of his beloved wife. He lives in a slum, spends all his time in sleazy bars getting beaten up for inappropriate behavior until one night he drunkenly drives into a wall (?suicidal?) and ends up in a hospital where he 'meets' Sibel (Sibel Kekilli), a young woman who has again attempted suicide as an escape from her strict family's prevention of her having a life. Hearing Cahit is Turkish, Sibel nonchalantly suggests they 'marry': Sibel's only way to escape her family would be to find a Turkish husband. Though grossly mismatched, the two agree to an 'open marriage', they satisfy Sibel's family, and move in together. Sibel cooks and cleans Cahit's hovel, and then goes out and sleeps around. This arrangement eventually causes problems for each of them and Sibel moves to Istanbul to escape the horrors of the life she has chosen. Once alone, Cahit is confronted with the reality that Sibel is the only path to salvation for his tragic life and the story proceeds - or rather speed drives - its way to a heartrending finish.
The characters in the film are generally unlikable sorts, especially Cahit, but each actor does so well allowing us to observe the dreary world that faces immigrants in a fractured society that we end up having an amazing amount of compassion for their character creations. Director Akin makes this two-hour plus drama speed by with such solid purpose that it seems a short film. There is considerable nudity and the sexual encounters may be a problem for some viewers, but Akin's cinematographer Rainer Klausmann makes everything work toward the ultimate message of the film. An interesting touch is Akin's choice of weaving a chamber music group of a female vocalist with Turkish instrumentalists as a chorus to comment on the action and keep us mindful that, though the film for the most part is set in Germany, this is a very Turkish story! Grady Harp, March 06
Intoxicating and shocking
Alexa T. Degennaro | Boston, MA USA | 07/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Always an intoxicating feast for the senses, and at times downright shocking, Head On is quite a departure for Germany's up-and-coming Turkish director Faith Akin. Previously known for kitsch comedies (Im Juli/In July) and touching dramadies (Solino), Akin plunges into his first overwhelmingly dark picture with reckless abandon - and it pays off. If ever there was a film that demanded attention, even from those normally wary of reading at the cinema, this is it.
Head On is a suprisingly beautiful portrait of unconventional love, and it's two leads amaze at every increasingly unbelieveable turn. Birol Unel, who generally plays grizzled thugs, plays... a grizzled thug, but lends his transition into a grizzled thug with a heart incredible believeability and sentiment, as he falls in love with newcomer Sibel Kelkilli's wildly suicidal character. Kelkilli, a former porn star (a fact that didn't come out until Head On was on the festival circuit), handles the film's sexually charged scenes like a pro, unsurprisingly, but it's Unel who surprises most by turning his unattractive character into something pleasantly sexual.
Akin, a DJ before he turned to filmmaking, infuses this film, like all his previous films, with a tantilising and toe-tapping punk-electronica soundtrack, seemlessly fusing narrative action with music unlike any other director of the indie-pop generation. The performances, the music and the surprising beauty of the love story creep up on you, making Head On a must-see for anyone who can stomach a bit of sex and violence for the ultimate movie-going payoff - cinematic AND emotional satisfaction.
One key warning: the scenes of sex and violence (particularly the violence) are VERY graphic. Take this into consideration if you're particularly squeamish."