Fatih Akin's The Edge of Heaven wears current events on its sleeve, feeling out the state of German-Turkish relationships as the former Ottomans clean house for E.U. membership 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 films still await a proper U.S. release date, while writer-director Akin once again secures distribution (as he did for his punk-posturing 2004 Head-On) with pseudo-provocations and a superficially deceptive simulacra of Art. Edge of Heaven ups the ambition: Its screenplay is a Dickensian network of happenstance, serving to intertwine six characters of different ages, nationalities, and castes. Three parent-child sets fracture, then reconcile/recombine. This expression of growth-through-trauma mostly involves actors hugging and making wistful "older and wiser" expressions while looking into the middle distance. (Everyone gets along. That the Turks believe in a different God than the Germans, and actually believe at that, is apparently not a pressing concern.) If the united Europe aspires to compete with America globally, this is good news—they've found their own multiculti Paul Haggis!
Patrycia Ziolkowska (at right) travels east in .
Runs at Varsity, Fri., Aug. 15–Thurs., Aug. 21. Not rated. 122 minutes.