Head-On (English, German, Turkish) - Review
Head On is what one would call a ‘hardcore’ love story. Passions run high amongst the lead characters Cahit and Sibel, who, after a marriage of convenience, discover that their violent ways could destroy them both. The self-destructive, intense and gory nature of their romance may not be ideal family viewing, but movie buffs must certainly watch what is now hailed as one of Fatih Akin's finest films. Winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.
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I gifted the DVD of Head On to my brother on his wedding anniversary, only to discover that he returned it to me a week later, stating that his wife didn’t regard it as a ‘wedding anniversary’ gift. This surprised me. I’d enjoyed watching Head On. However, now that bro had returned it, I watched it again, wearing the ‘wedding anniversary’ lens. And I realised that bhabhi is right.
It didn’t mean that Head On is not a good film – it’s just that despite being a story about a married couple’s relationship, it is a setting that many would find too intense and uncomfortable. In fact, without the destruction and violence they bring upon themselves, the passions that run between Cahit and Sibel and their love for each other, commands envy.
Set in Turkey, Head On is about Cahit, a 40-yr old hot-tempered divorcee, who attempts suicide only to land up at rehab where he meets Sibel, who proposes him to marry her immediately. Not that she wants to be married, but her parents want a Turkish groom. This promise to be just ‘room-mates’ after marriage, is what marks the beginning of a life, that spins wildly out of their control, where their independent identities overlap their sense of being married.
Akin’s treatment of the film is like that of a ballad. An orchestra, beautifully perched on the banks of the Bosphorus river in Istanbul starts the film and makes appearances at key moments, deepening our understanding of the story. This helps us see Cahit and Sibel as characters in a tale, rather than those with whom we look to identify with. At times, you feel sorry for the couple, thinking that if only they tried, they could make things so much better. At times, you cheer for them, as they discover sparks in what is simply a marriage of convenience.
Cahit is an addict, with a bad temper and is sometimes in bed with other women. Sibel, on the other hand is a dream room-mate to have, cooks really well, cleans the room, insists on hitting the dance floor often, but doesn’t mind hooking up for the night with the first good looking man she finds. These traits not only draw Cahit and Sibel closer to each other, but also disrupt their lives permanently.
The film’s music is one of its biggest strengths. Akin uses it well (reminds you of Dev D). Both Cahit and Dev drink like a fish, do drugs, show anger through violence and keep their rooms extremely dirty. The similarities end there.
Akin, in an interview on the DVD, says that he was immensely inspired by people like Kurt Cobain and James Dean. Indeed, both of their self-destructive characters, are depicted in how he directs Cahit and Sibel. Both Birol Unnel (Cahit) and Sibel Kekilli (Sibel) give oustanding performances.
Head On is disturbing and gory, because it makes no inhibition in showing violent love. But it is one film that you want to revisit, just to relive passions that you rarely see in relationships these days. Some may mistake Akin’s story as that of love at first sight, when in fact, it is about impulsive choices and consequences that go beyond your control.
- Violence: Makes you cringe. Gory at times.
- Language: Watch out for the cuss words.
- Nudity & Sexual content: About 2-3 scenes. No subtle references.
- Concept: Violent, passionate, destructive love.
- General Look and Feel: Pleasing.
Head-On - Movie Details
- Official Sites: Website
- Producer: Stefan Schubert, Ralph Schwingel
- Director: Fatih Akin
- Lead Cast: Birol Ünel, Sibel Kekilli
- Story: Fatih Akin
- Cinematography: Rainer Klausmann
- Editor: Andrew Bird
- Music Director: Alexander Hacke, Maceo Parker
- Running time: 117 minutes
- Reviewer: Arcopol Chaudhuri
- Language: English, German, Turkish
- Country: Germany, Turkey
- Categories: World Cinema
- Genres: Relationships