Can't believe I hadn't written about Gegen Die Wand yet!!! I'm pretty sure it's one of my recent discoveries that I most love and I count it among my favorite films.
Fatih Akin's film is about a self-destructive Turkish man and a self-destructive Turkish woman in Germany, whose paths meet and who decide to marry out of convenience, only to discover -with tragic consequences- that they helplessly need each other from then on. It's fascinating to observe how the dynamic inside their dubious marriage changes as they begin to know each other more and more, and how they struggle to be flexible and accept the turn that their lives have taken. Akin takes both characters, Cahit and Sibel, from one extreme to the other of the emotional scale; both of them set out as moody, impulsive, self-deprecating, and unstable, only reaching their balance point when they are together. They are troubled, suffer from multiple addictions, and reluctant to accept responsibilities or sacrifice themselves too much. Theirs is a relationship in which the first they ever saw of each other was their worst side, and one that evolves towards discovering the best. They both teach each other things they would've never learned otherwise, and the film ends accordingly: not romantically, not ideally, not tragically, but exactly the way it should.
I love the way the film is written and made. This story could have easily been corny if not told properly, or, on the other hand, too dark for its own good. Akin's take is refreshingly real, straying away from sentimentalism or naturallism. The film is also shot beautifully and it's full of gorgeous Turkish music (as well as new/no wave).
At the core of the film, and above all else, are Birol Unel and Sibel Kekili's soulful performances. Both are completely absorbed by their characters and both manage to enhace their beauty (which, sometimes, is hard to believe that may even be there at all) as in making them relatable, if not comprehensible. Birol Unel is... in my opinion... captivating.
In few words, Gegen die Wand is a great movie and it can be appreciated for the quality of the performances and the direction, but it resonates with me very much and that is the main reason why I feel so drawn to it and why I recommend it. I think it's very honest, raw, and yet not a disgusting or depressing film. Despite all the tragedies that may occur to them, the characters are survivors and are left with the memory of a life-changing experience that one could only wish to have. It speaks about how fast the world turns and how uncertain life is, how you can find things where and when you least expect it. And it talks about how people can change. Deep, yes, but not tiresome (on the contrary!) and not preachy. Wonderful.