Head-On

Rated NR 2005

Rarely is a woman desperate for marriage because she craves sexual freedom. That's one of the twists that makes Head-On, a dark German drama from writer/director Fatih Akin, more interesting than its otherwise familiar marriage-of-convenience premise. Sibel (Sibel Kekilli) is a Turkish/German woman held prisoner by her strict Muslim family. Then she meets Cahit (Birol Ünel), a suicidal alcoholic. No matter -- he's Turkish, and Sibel's parents would approve. She begs him to marry her, simply to get out of the house. In no time, he must endure the awkward ceremony of asking for her hand, jousting with her brother (Cem Akin), and undergoing a full-fledged Turkish wedding. (None of these scenes is played for laughs.) Then, after a honeymoon period, things go sharply downhill. While the film suffers from a few common missteps (particularly in giving its protagonists' relationship more credit than it merits), Head-On is a solid, well-crafted drama, with a tight script, sharp editing, and strong performances by the leads. Beware, however: This is no comedy.

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