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The Edge of Heaven

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Fatih Akin's The Edge of Heaven wears current events on its sleeve, feeling out the state of German-Turkish relations as the former Ottomans clean house for membership in the European Union and the demographic earthquake of 70 million Muslims waits at Europe's door. Examining a Europe whose increasingly porous borders have drastically undermined a longstanding homogeneity is very much at the center of excellent recent work by such divergent sensibilities as Austria's Ulrich Seidl (Import/Export) and Britain's Shane Meadows (Somers Town). Both of those films still await a proper U.S. release, even as writer-director Akin's pseudo provocations secure him a distribution deal. The Edge of Heaven offers a Dickensian network of happenstance, intertwining six characters of different ages, nationalities and castes. Three parent-child sets fracture, then reconcile or recombine. This expression of growth through trauma mostly involves actors hugging and making wistful "older and wiser" expressions while looking into the middle distance. If the united Europe aspires to compete with the United States globally, this is good news — it has its own Paul Haggis.— Nick Pinkerton

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