Fatih Akin

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Short Sharp Shock (1998)
7.4 In July (2000)
We Forgot to go Back (2001)
Solino (2002)
7.7 Head On (2004)
7.0 The Edge of Heaven (2008)
7.1 Soul Kitchen (2009)
6.8 The Cut (2014)
Tschick (2016)
7.0 In the Fade (2017)
6.8 The Golden Glove (2019)

Fatih Akin (Germany, 1973) debuted with Kurz und schmerzlos/ Short Sharp Shock (1998).

Im Juli/ In July (2000) is both a romantic comedy and a road movie, set in a melting pot of national identities. The protagonist is an involuntary Ulysses seduced by sirens and attacked by monsters who eventually returns "home" to his Penelope, except that here (in 21st century Europe) Penelope is a free-wheeling independent woman and "home" is the nomadic and improvised life. Thanks to the journey which has indirectly been caused by his Penelope, the protagonist undergoes a metamorphosis from boring lifeless and lonely nerd to exciting and full of life world citizen. His is a journey of self-discovery but also a slow, dangerous and painful journey to move closer to the girl's ideal of life. At the end of that journey he has truly "reached" the girl, not only geographically but also psychologically. It's a comedy, but also a sort of fairy tale.

A Turkish man, Isa, is driving on a long straight deserted highway somewhere in Europe. Isa stops to admire an eclipse. Isa then opens the trunk of the car and we see that there's a dead body inside. Just then a young man touches him on the shoulder and Isa reacts by threatening the young man with the flame of a lighter. The young man claims to be a hitchhiker. Isa curses him and tries to drive away. Desperate for a ride, the hitchhikers jumps in front of the car. Isa doesn't stop and the young man rolls over the car, falls on the road and pretends to be dead. Isa loads him in the car and drives away, cursing that now he has two dead bodies to deal with. The young man hears him and stops pretending to be dead. He begs for a ride and Isa eventually allows him to stay in the car. He introduces himself as Daniel, an apprentice math teacher, who is chasing his girlfriend. And Daniel begins his story.

The flashback takes us to the nerdy Daniel teaching math to a class. The students are totally indifferent to his lesson. It's the last day before vacation. As Daniel is walking home, Juli, a girl who is secretly in love with him, stops him and sells him a Mayan ring with the symbol of the sun which she says it's an amulet: he is destined to meet a girl who has the same sun and that's the woman of his life. Juli then invites him to a party and he accepts, but first walks home. His neighbor Kodjo is going on vacation and asks Daniel, who is planning to spend the holidays at home, to water his plants, morning and evening. That evening Daniel goes to the party but doesn't find Juli. On the way home he is struck when he sees a Turkish girl, Melek, who is wearing a shirt with the same sun on it. She asks him for directions to a hostel and he offers to drive her there. Just then Juli is going to the party and sees him leave with Melek. Juli is heartbroken. Melek and Daniel spend a romantic evening together. He confesses that he doesn't know any hostel but invites her to his place. He tells her that they were predestined to meet but she doesn't share the excitement because she has a date that friday under a famous bridge of Istanbul. The following morning he drives her to the airport. Meanwhile, Juli has decided to leave town and hitchhike around the world. She tells her best friend that she has no destination: the first car that stops will decide her destination. Just then Daniel is driving by and recognizes her, and so the first car that stops is Daniel's, precisely the man who caused her crisis. Daniel tells her that her ring/amulet worked: he met the woman of his life and has decided to drive to Istanbul and be under that bridge on friday. Juli is disappointed that he fell in love with another woman, and because of her own ring, but she decides to travel with him to Istanbul. She tells him that it is her tradition: every summer she hitchhikes wherever the first car is going. Their road trip ends soon: his car breaks down. The only hotel only has one single room left and so Daniel and Juli has to sleep together in a small bed. Nonetheless, the nerdy Daniel falls asleep right away. The following morning they discuss which route to take to Istanbul. Daniel would prefer a direct route through Italy, but that involves an expensive ferry. Juli, who is broke, would prefer an overland route through the Balkans. Just then a truck driver stops and tells them that he's going to Budapest, which is on Juli's route, so Juli jumps on the truck and Daniel reluctantly follows her. Leo the truck driver stops at a restaurant and invites Juli to follow him to the end of the world. She tells him she can't. He guesses she's in love with Daniel and asks her whether he would find for her. Leo and Juli dance, and Leo gets aggressive. All the men in the restaurant stand up to defend Juli, but Juli calls for Daniel. Finally, Daniel erupts and attacks Leo, who only pretends to defend himself and winks at Juli: Daniel would indeed fight for her. Now they are stranded in the middle of nowhere. Daniel is shocked to see that Juli smokes marijuana, but then he tries it when she offers it to him and gets "high" (the camera shows us the two levitating in the night sky). They sleep under the stars, not realizing that they are on someone's boat. in the morning Daniel accidentally wakes up the crew and is promptly thrown in the water. Juli remains unaware on the boat. Daniel runs into a young woman, Luna, who is driving a van and she gives him a ride. She doesn't speak German and they can't communicate but she does take him to Budapest. She takes him to a fancy bar where she seems to know everybody. She drugs his drink and then steals his wallet and his ring. He wakes up in a field among bales of hay. As he tries to leave, the owner of the farm shoots at him, but then gives him a ride on an old truck back to the city. He randomly runs into Luna again in a flea market just when she is selling his ring. He grabs the ring but then has to flee because the jeweler thinks he is the thief and runs after him. Luna steals a few jewels and runs to her van. Daniel manages to jump on the back of the van as she is driving away and climbs to the roof. The jeweler drives after them. A reckless car chase through the streets of the city, with Daniel hanging for dear life on the roof of the van, ends when the chaser runs out of gasoline. But seconds later Luna is stopped by several police cars. She is handcuffed but she flirts and jokes, pretending she doesn't speak the language, and even poses for tourists who take pictures of the scene. Daniel is still unseen on the roof of the van. As the cops arrest her, Daniel drives away on her van all the way to the border with Romania. The problem is that he doesn't have the passport anymore and the border guards don't let him cross the border. Just then Juli appears, exactly on the Romanian side of the border. Daniel explains his situation and ask Juli to lie that she is his wife so the Romanian border guards will let him cross into Romania. She demands that they get married for real. She forces him to marry her, standing on the other side of the barrier, even reciting a little speech. The Romania guards congratulate him and only ask for a wedding gift... the van. Daniel is still determined to reach Istanbul and find Melek. Juli and Daniel are stuck with no car and Daniel proposes to steal a car. Juli refuses to steal, but Daniel suggests to steal from a bad guy. Sure enough they see a man being rude to a child and try to steal his car. The free-spirited Juli thinks this is very romantic. Juli finds a camera in the car and starts taking pictures of their trip through Romania, so we see a sequence of photographs. They are turned back at the border with Bulgaria, but they find a countryside road that takes them to the creek that (in Daniel's opinion) marks the border. Since there is no bridge, Daniel calmly calculates the speed at which he can "fly" with the car over the creek (an incredibly stupid idea), while Juli simply wades the creek on foot. Daniel tries and the car indeed flies over the creek but not enough to reach the other side, so Daniel has to abandon the car in the creek. This time the free-spirited Juli is mad at him for risking his life in such a stupid manner, but she soon regains her sense of humor when they reach the real border: the Danube. Daniel risked his life for nothing. Daniel gets mad at Juli because it's her fault if he abandoned his quiet life in Germany: she's the one who sold him the ring that has caused this trip. They sleep under the stars again on the bank of the river. At dawn Juli leaves Daniel and walks to the road. She decides again that the first car will determine where she goes. A car stops but its going back to Germany and she decides that it doesn't count: she broke her own rule. Daniel wakes up in the middle of nowhere and the eclipse begins. Now we realize that we are back where the film began. That's when Daniel meets Isa and asks for a ride.

Daniel ends the tale of his misadvantures just when they are in line at the border with Turkey... with a dead body in the trunk. The border guards find the corpse in the truck and arrest Isa and Daniel. In jail Isa explains to Daniel that the corpse is his uncle Ahmed, who died in Germany. The family appointed Isa to smuggle the body back into Turkey. The Turkish guards believe Isa's story and only ask for the uncle's birth certificate, and Isa makes a phone call to his girlfriend.. Meanwhile, Daniel is released (or escapes) and boards a bus to Istanbul. The bus stops at a station and he runs into Melek, who is heading in the opposite direction. Daniel tells Melek that he's there for her, but Melek won't be able to meet her date at the bridge because she has to bring something to the border. Daniel guesses that she is bringing the birth certificate to Isa. (Melek's date was Isa, her boyfriend). Daniel reaches Istanbul and heads to the bridge. Originally he traveled there all the way from Germany to meet Melek, but now he looks for Juli. And sure enough she is there, waiting for him. She asks him where his date is. Daniel now recites his wedding speech to her, a speech that she taught him in which he says that he has traveled so far only to be with her. They finally kiss. Daniel proposes that they continue using her rule: let the first car decide where they go next. Just then Isa and Melek see them and stop to pick them up. As they get into the car, Daniel sees that Juli has a tattoo of the sun on her back, the same symbol of the talisman: that's what she meant when she told him that a woman wearing that symbol would be the woman of her life.

He also directed documentaries such as Wir Haben Vergessen Zurueckzukehren/ We Forgot to go Back (2001).

Solino (2002)

Gegen die Wand/ Head On (2004) is a brutal melodrama of loneliness, pairing a failed middle-aged man who probably still grieves his dead wife and a soon-to-be-failed young woman who craves casual sex the way children crave candies. One has no ambition left, the other one refuses any ambition. For different reasons they don't have any pride. For different reasons they are not looking for redemption. They just want to indulge in their vice of loneliness. They are both worth nothing. They both think they don't have the strength to be worth something. They come from opposite places (he is not only indifferent of but even ignorant of traditional life, she is hostile to it), but they both represent the denial of the traditional values of family and tribe. Eventually they make the big mistake of becoming "traditional", and they pay a price for it.

The story is divided in sections, each section starting with a band of traditional Turkish musicians performing against the backdrop of an Istanbul panorama.
Cahit is a middle-aged Turk living in Germany who works in a factory, picking up empty beer bottles. When he is not doing his boring job, he gets drunk at a depressing bar. Sometimes his girlfriend Maren, a hairdresser, joins him for a drink. One day he has a fight with other men, drives away and crashes on purpose against a wall. He is taken to a mental institution where he meets an exuberant girl, Sibel, also Turkish, who seems happy to have found him. The relatives talk to the girl: she has tried to kill herself, and that's how she ended up in the same institution. She still lives with her parents and is subject to the traditional domination of the family's males (her father and her brother, who promises to kill her if she sleeps again with a man). She is 20 years younger than Cahit but she takes the first chance to propose to him, despite the fact that he is still wearing a cast around his neck and can hardly walk straight. She invites him to a bar and tells him bluntly that she wants the freedom to have sex with men. When he rejects her, she proves her determination by slitting her wrist in front of him. Sibel is desperate to leave her house and her only way out is marriage, for which she needs a Turkish husband. Sibel offers to marry Cahit and be a good housewife, as long as he lets her have sex with other men. It's just a marriage of convenience so that she can gain her freedom. They keep arguing on a bus until the bus driver kicks them out.
The band plays music in Istanbul. Cahit goes home: it's a messy and dirty place. He drinks and stares at the picture of a woman. He meets his friend Seref in a jazz club and tells him that he has decided to marry the girl in order to help her get rid of her family. The friend dresses up and pretends to be the uncle who arranges the marriage, and introduces Cahit as a factory manager. Sibel's cousin Selma, her best friend, arrives from Istanbul to attend the wedding. Selma, like everyone else, is puzzled that Sibel could not find anyone better than Cahit to marry. At the wedding we learn that Cahit is a widower. The marriage appeases her family and Sibel can finally move out of her parents' home. Cahit goes back to his routine of alcohol and drugs. When Sibel asks him about his wife Katarina, Cahit explodes and kicks her out. Sibel walks to the bar and picks up the bartender, showing the kind of sexual freedom that offended her family and made her wish so badly to move out. Before leaving the cousin Selma invites Sibel to dump the fake husband and move to Istanbul with her. Sibel sticks to their agreement and keeps their house clean. She even cuts his hair. Cahit, who is permanently in a stupor because of the alcohol and drugs, makes brutal love to Maren, who still doesn't know that he married Sibel. He tells her that Sibel needs a job and is good at haircuts, so Maren offers her a job in her salon. Cahit and Sibel go dancing together, but she leaves with another guy. Home alone, Cahit messes up his place again, loads a rifle and shoots the wedding picture.
The band plays in Istanbul. Six months later she already owns a car and takes Cahit to visit her family. The brother-in-law tries to bond with Cahit with his Turkish friends but Cahit clearly does not belong to their culture: when they propose to visit a brothel, he asks them why they don't have sex with their wives, and they get offended that their wives would be viewed as sexual objects. Cahit is not only indifferent of but even ignorant of Turkish culture. The brother-in-law found out that Cahit is not a factory manager but just a humble worker. Cahit's excuse is that he was in love with the girl, and the brother-in-law is moved by it. Cahit and Sibel go to a bar together and she, again, leaves with another man. Cahit has sex at home with Maren, who thinks he is better than ever in bed. One evening Sibel cooks for Cahit a nice dinner like a devoted housewife but makes the mistake of telling him that he has to pretend to be impotent so that they can justify the fact that they don't have children. Offended, he leaves slamming the door. She sniffs cocaine preparing for her date. Cahit drinks at the bar with Maren and tells her that Sibel is his wife but they never have sex. Then he walks drunk into the club where Sibel is and gets into a fight with a man who wants to dance with her. His friends beat him up. After that demonstration of jealousy (or at least hurt pride), Cahit and Sibel finally make love. However, she stops him before he can come because she thinks that they would truly become husband and wife if they completed the intercourse. Cahit goes to a Turkish club with his friend Seref, cuts his hand out of anger, and starts dancing on stage. Maren, who doesn't seem jealous at all, tells Sibel about Katarina. Maren also tells Sibel that she is Cahit's sex buddy. Sibel leaves the salon angry and sends her lover Niko to hell. Niko is just one of the many but clearly he would like to be more than that. Then she spends the evening by herself at the amusement park, having fun like a child. Niko makes fun of Cahit at the bar where they both are. Cahit eventually snaps and hits him with a bottle, accidentally killing him just when Sibel is walking into the door. Sibel cries and slits her wrists but then has second thoughts and stops the bleeding. The newspapers publish the news that Sibel was sleeping with another man and Cahit killed him. Sibel's father burns all the pictures of her, and her brother tries to kill her in the street. She finds shelter for one night at Seref's place. Seref tells her to flee to Istanbul. She admits that she loves Cahit. She says goodbye to her mother and then visits Cahit in prison, promising that she will wait for him.
The band plays in Istanbul. Sibel, who now cut her hair very short and wears pants, moves in with Selma in Istanbul. Selma is a career woman in a big hotel and finds Sibel a humble job at the hotel. But Sibel is not meant for a life of work and home. One evening she sits next to young kids at a fast-food place and asks them where she can get drugs: the kids are shocked. She cannot stand the routine of work and writers to Cahit that she now despises Selma who only lives for work. Sibel walks alone in a bar (an unusual sight in Turkey) and picks up a man at random. The man gives her opium and asks her to move in with him and work in his club. Sibel tells Selma how much she despises her "normal" lifestyle and moves out. She gets so drunk in a club that the owner can have sex with her while she is still lying unconscious on the floor after all the customers have left. Walking home alone at night she is beaten by three men. She keeps provoking them so that they keep beating her. She insults them, basically testing their belief that a woman (especially a woman like her) should never address a man in that defiant tone. Eventually one of them pulls out a knife and stabs her. They leave her for dead. A taxi driver finds her lying in the deserted street.
The band plays in Istanbul. Years later Cahit is released from prison. He tells Seref that he is determined to find Sibel. Seref knows and has saved money to buy Cahit an air ticket. Cahit tries to find out Sibel's address from her brother but her brother coldly replies that he has no sister. Cahit lands in Istanbul and finds Selma at the hotel. Selma is now the manager. She refuses to tell Cahit where Sibel lives: Sibel has a new life, a rich husband and a daughter. Selma is afraid that Cahit would destroy Sibel's life (neglecting the fact that Sibel destroyed Cahit's life). At night he has a nightmare of him crashing the car against the wall. Sibel calls, but tells him that she cannot talk. Cahit spends the days waiting for Sibel to appear. Eventually she does. They make love in his hotel room, like she owed it to him. He asks her to flee with him to his hometown. However, at the last minute she doesn't show up and he leaves alone for his hometown.
The band finish playing in Istanbul. They stand up and bend to the audience.

Auf der Anderen Seite/ The Edge of Heaven (2008) is the contemplative counterpart to the brutal Head-On (2004). The plot is unnecessarily complicated by shifting from Germany to Turkey and by shuffling the chronology, but essentially the film is a character study, and not much of a story. In fact, it has no ending. The screenplay is artificially intricate, when the two stories it tells are relatively simple. The only oddity, and perhaps a hidden message of the film, is that the two stories intersect syntactically but not sematically: the characters of the two stories meet and interact, but without ever finding out that they are part of the same story. Another oddity of the screenplay is that the first two sections have titles that give away what is going to happen (in both cases somebody dies). It is either an interesting satire of film-goers' paranoia for spoilers or a way to shift the focus of attention: instead of the suspense created by an unknown future, we are invited to the cold analysis created by fore-knowledge of the future. The superficial theme of the plot is that they never find out who each other is and what he or she means. The other theme is one of redemption and repentance. This is more complex and ambiguous because the repentance comes with a loss of morality (the son forgives a father who was a drunk and a pervert and became a murderer; the daughter betrays her fellow radicals when she repents; the prostitute repents by becoming the concubine of an old pervert; the mother redeems herself by continuing the mission of a daughter who was helping a criminal).

In Turkey during a religious holiday a young man (Nejat) drives along a road, stops at a store, inquires about the music that is being played.
Protesters are marching in the streets.
An old man, Ali, wanders around the red-light district of a German city staring at the prostitutes. He picks one who turns out to be Turkish like him, Yeter. Two Muslim men who are passing by overhear that she is Turkish.
Ali's son Nejat is going home by train. He is a professor of German literature. We see him lecture while one girl in the audience is fast asleep. Nejat speaks German. Ali takes him to the horse races and wins. Later Ali visits the same Turkish prostitute, tells her that he is a widower with a pension, and offers to pay her the equivalent of her monthly income if she goes to live with him. Yeter takes the subway and the two Muslim men approach her and threaten to harm her if she does not "repent". She promises to repent. She then accepts Ali's offer. Ali is proud that he raised Nejat by himself (his mother died when he was just six months old). Yeter tells Ali and Nejat that she is a widow too, and that her daughter Ayten lives in Turkey and is studying at the university, and Ayten doesn't know that her mother is a whore. Nejat is shocked (but not too much) that she's a whore. Ali gets drunk, demands sex, beats Yeter and accidentally kills her. Ali is jailed.
The coffin of Yeter arrives in Turkey for a proper burial. Ayten has disappeared for several months, so she doesn't know that her mother is dead. Nejat follows the coffin and decides to find Ayten. He posts pictures in the streets and in stores. He meets a bookstore owner and decides to take over the store.
Back to the protesters. One of them is Ayten. They are beaten and arrested by the police. She has a gun and runs away. Chased, she hides her gun on the roof of a building. However she has lost her cell phone in the street. The following day the police raid a house full of women, all of them radicals like Ayten. Ayten is helped by her comrades to escape to Germany, where she assumes a new identity, Gul. She looks for her mother Yeter but cannot find any clue. The only place where she can sleep is the university. She's the one who is asleep while Nejat is lecturing. Ayten speaks English. A nice student, Lotte, helps her. She has just come back from India and lives with her mother Suzanne. Lotte is fascinated by the story of the dissident who is persecuted by her government and invites Ayten to move in with her. The two become lovers. Ayten's mother has little control over her daughter.
Ayten and Yeter will never know it, but they were in the same place at the same time. Ayten was in the same street when Yeter's tram passed by.
The cops stop Lotte for a routine check. Ayten, afraid of being arrested, runs away. She's caught and a judge expels her from Germany because Turkish citizens do not qualify as political exiles. Lotte is terrified that Ayten will be tortured in Turkey and takes the plane to Turkey, driven by a mixture of romantic love and political passion. Lotte's mom begs her to go back to the university, but Lotte replies that now she finally has a mission in life. It takes months for Lotte to get a permit to visit Ayten in jail.
During those months Lotte also meets Nejat in his bookstore, and even notices the picture of Yeter that Nejat has posted. She rents a room from Nejat, and will never find out that he is the son of the man who killed Ayten's mother (nor that Ayten's mother is dead).
Lotte visits Ayten in jail and Ayten asks her to retrieve the gun that she hid on the roof. Lotte finds the gun and is walking home when a group of children on drugs steal her purse with the gun inside. She chases them and finds them, but one of them pulls the trigger and kills her. The detectives tell Ayten that Lotte has been killed and beg her to collaborate. Lotte's coffin flies back to Germany.
Ali is deported to Turkey while Suzanne (Lotte's mother) flies to Turkey of her own will. She now wants to carry out Lotte's mission. Suzanne takes Lotte's room in Nejat's house, reads Lotte's diary and visits Ayten in jail. She tells Nejat that she was a hippy in her youth. Ayten is heartbroken that she caused Lotte's death and decides to "repent" to the authorities. Her friends in jail spit on her as she walks out free.
On the first day of the religious holiday Nejat drives out of the city. It's the first scene of the film, played again scene by scene. He left Suzanne to take care of the bookstore. That's where Ayten goes, not knowing that it's the bookstore of the son of the man who killed her mother.
Nejat is visiting his father in the fishermen's village where he relocated. Nejat just stares at the sea, feeling guilty that he owes everything to his father.

Soul Kitchen (2009) is a farcical comedy which at times has a comically apocalyptic plot, something like Scorsese's After Hours with a bit of Kaurismaki's punk poetry.

Zinos runs a cheap restaurant for blue-collar workers located in a former warehouse, helped by waitress Lucia. He is kind to an old sailor, Sokrates, who is fixing his boat in the back of the building without paying the rent he is supposed to pay. Zinos is on his way to meet his girlfriend Nadine when he is stopped in the street by a childhood schoolmate, Thomas. Zinos gives him the address of the restaurant and invites him to visit. Zinos then joins Nadine's rich family at a classy restaurant where they are bidding Nadine farewell as she is leaving for a job in China. Zinos is not happy about this move and Nadine, for whom this job is important, is not happy that he won't join her. Nadine's wealthy granma also disapproves of the move. While the dinner goes on, they witness the eccentric chef Shayn get into a heated argument with an obnoxious customer, which results in the chef being fired. Zinos walks outside to tell him that he is a great chef and gives him the address of his restaurant. Nadine leaves the following day. At the same time, Zinos' criminal brother Illias is released from jail on a probation program. He visits Zinos and tells him that he needs a job for six months. Zinos comments that Illias has never worked in his life but still accepts to give him a fictitious job. Illias asks Zinos to keep it secret that he spent time in prison. Zinos injures his back while trying to move a heavy appliance, but he refuses to see a doctor because has no medical insurance. When he speaks with Nadine who has arrived in China, she advises him to see Anna, a physical therapist. Anna tells him to walk around, don't work, don't sit or stand. While Zinos is out, Thomas drives by the restaurant and takes pictures of the building. Shayn comes to look for work and Zinos hires him as the new chef despite the fact that Shayn refuses to cook the cheap fast food that is popular with the clientele. Zinos has debts and the creditors come to confiscate his music equipment. The chef's new menu is not a success at all. The chef gets angry with the patrons and insults them: they all leave the restaurant. Zinos fires Shayn, but now he has no customers, and debts to pay. Thomas comes to visit after hours and drives him to a shady building that he owns: he got rich serving a crowd of gamblers, prostitutes and thugs. Now he wants to buy Zinos' restaurant. Zinos refuses to sell. Thomas calls the police that claims that he got food poisoning at Zinos' restaurant, clearly trying to destroy Zinos' business so he will have to sell. Zinos tells his brother that he has decided to move to China with Nadine. Following Thomas' report, the city inspectors visit the resturant and threaten to shut down the place if Zinos doesn't implement expensive improvements. Suddenly a group of customers come to the restaurant and Zinos has to call urgently chef Shayn. Zinos has allowed a punk band to rehearse in the restaurant and the customers enjoy the music. Nadine is angry that he postponed the trip to China but Zinos is working very hard even with increasing back pain. Lucia the waitress is outraged that Zinos is killing himself to serve the customers while Illias, formally employed there, is simply chatting with his criminal friends. Nonetheless, she takes Zinos and Ilias to a dance club where Illias secretely falls in love with her. Illias and his criminal friends steal the stereo equipment of the club. Zinos tells Lucia that Illias just get out of prison and is the king of theft. She drinks too much and passes out. He takes her home and just then Nadine calls, very angry. Zinos' pain is so strong that he collapses on the floor. Zinos wants to fly to China and tries to convince Lucia to run the resturant, but she doesn't want the responsibility. Illias tells Zinos that he's in love. Thomas calls Zinos that he still wants to buy the place Illias stole the equipment only to please the waitress who likes music but the music turns out to be perfect to entertain the clientele of the restaurant, once the brothers figure out how to operate the equipment. Chef Shayn teaches Zinos how to cook his sophisticated dishes and the restaurant is packed. Zinos finally has enough money to remodel the kitchen and pass the inspection. The restaurant is even featured on a magazine cover. But Zinos is frantically working in the kitchen which causes his back pain to increase. Illias gets angry when Lucia mentions that Zinos told her of his criminal past. Nadine calls that now she doesn't want him to come: she has been sent far away on an important assignment and he would be a burden. Now it is Zinos was insists. Illias for the first time tells Zinos that he is ashamed of himself. This makes Zinos feel that he can finally trust his brother and Zinos offers Illias the manager position. They go to a notary public where Zinos signs paperwork granting full power of attorney to Illias so Zinos can leave for China. The last night before his flight, Shayn cooks a special dessert with an aphrodisiac. Everybody in the restaurant starts making out, and the evening becomes a general orgy. Lucia and Illias have sex in the kitchen. Thomas comes for business but ends up being inebriated by the dessert and has sex with an ugly tax official in the middle of the restaurant. Thomas is shocked to find that Illias is now the owner. The following morning Zinos is at the airport to board his plane to China and sees... Nadine. Nadine is back home because her granma died. And she is with a Chinese man. Zinos frantically cancels his flight and falls picking up his luggage, and this time the injury is serious enough to be hospitalized. The doctor tells him that he needs an operation or may end up paralyzed. Nadine doesn't pick up the phone when he calls her. Meanwhile, Illias and Lucia are running the resturant, and the former convict behaves professionally until Thomas lures him to play poker with him. Zinos, full of pain killers, walks to the home of Nadine's family but has to sleep outside on a park bench because nobody opens the door. At the restaurant, Lucia leaves angry at Illias who neglects her for playing poker. Illias keeps playing and losing. Eventually he gambles the restaurant and loses it. Suddenly a group of thugs shows up to protect Thomas and kick Illias out. The following day Thomas and Illias meet at the notary public where Illias signs the paperwork ceding the restaurant to Thomas. Meanwhile, a limping and sleepy Zinos is too slow to stop Nadine's family that is heading to the cemetery. He walks to the cemetery by himself and finds Nadine holding hands with the Chinese man. Realizing that he has been cheated by his girlfriend, Zinos causes a comic commotion. Back home, Zinos burns objects that remind him of Nadine and causes a fire. Illias and Zinos leave just when the apartment explodes and fire trucks arrive. They take up a room in a hotel, where Illias still hides the truth from Zinos about losing the restaurant. Zinos, full of painkillers, goes to the restaurant but is beaten by Thomas' thugs and informed by Thomas that Illias has signed the papers. Zinos confronts Illias who simply cries. Zinos tells Illias that they need to steal the paperwork from Thomas' office. They steal the document but cops arrive and arrest Zinos who cannot run. Illias immediately surrenders to be with his brother. The papers fly away. Zinos is released from jail, but Illias is imprisoned again. Zinos in extreme pain goes to Anna. This time Anna takes Zinos to a Turkish chiropractor, as a last resort. His brutal method heals Zinos of his herniated disc. Zinos gets a job in a warehouse. Nadine calls him and explains that she feels bad about what she has done. She inherited money and she's rich now. She's going back to China to live with her Chinese boyfriend. Zinos visits the old staff of the resturant. They all moved on with new careers. Lucia is now a bartender, angry at Illias. Illias is temporarily released and sees Thomas who has been arrested for tax fraud. Illias gets out and hooks up again with Lucia.. Zinos visits his old restaurant which is now closed and finds the notice of an auction. Zinos needs money for the auction and borrows it from Nadine, who is now rich. The man who wanted to buy the place from Thomas is ready to outbid Zinos, but Zinos' old mad tenant Sokrates causes an accident that chokes the man, so Zinos wins the restaurant back. It's Christmas time and Zinos begins to remodel the restaurant. He prepares a sophisticated meal but it's only for... Anna.

The Cut (2014) is an epic about the Armenian genocide and about a father determined to get back his family. The first part is harrowing although quite stereotypical of similar films about genocides. Unfortunately, the second part is overlong and hardly interesting, just a sequence of brief episodes shot in different locations, mainly a pretext for the cinematographer to play with historical reconstructions of environments. It is also a little implausible that a mute would be able to travel around the world by himself in early 20th century.

The film opens informing us of the Armenian genocide during World War I. In 1915 an Armenian blacksmith named Nazareth lives in a Turkish village. He picks up his two sweet girls from school. In the middle of the night the imperial police knocks at the door and announces that Nazareth has been drafted in the army. He has only a few minutes to say goodbye to his wife Rakel and to his daughters. All the Armenian men over 15 are rounded up and taken to a rocky desert to build a road. As they work, they are treated more like a chain gang than like soldiers. They also see women, children, old people and priests escorted by guards to an unknown destination. They watch powerless as a woman is grabbed by soldiers in front of her child and raped. The conditions are brutal for the workers: the ones who get sick are left to die and quickly buried in the desert. One night a government emissary comes. He gathers all the Armenians and tells them that they will be freed if they convert to Islam. The ones who accept are called traitors by their fellow Armenians but they are indeed taken away. Nazareth and the other ones who refuse wake up in the morning to find that the guards have disappeared, but then a squad appears that ties them together and takes them into a canyon. They are told to knee and then the members of the squad cut their throats, one by one. The one who has to kill Nazareth hesitates until a soldier points a gun to his head. Then he pushes the knife into the throat of Nazareth but not deep enough to kill him. Realizing that Nazareth is still alive, this Ottoman hides it from the others, who in the meantime are robbing the dead. At night the Ottoman, who has defected, comes back to drag Nazareth away. Nazareth is alive but cannot speak anymore: the "cut" has left him mute. They wander in the rocky desert for a while but then are ambushed by an armed group. It turns out that they are all deserters (ethnic Turkish deserters) and have become bandits. The Ottoman and Nazareth join them and so Nazareth becomes a bandit. One day they attack a Turk who is passing by, and the Turk recognizes Nazareth as the blacksmith from his village. The Turk is traveling with a wagon full of women and children and begs Nazareth to help him. Nazareth can't speak and in any case he walks away, presumably reluctant to help a Turk. But the Turk tells him that the Armenians have been deported to another village, Ras al-Ain. The bandits rob the Turk and his family. Later, Nazareth drops his weapon and starts walking away from the gang. The gang leader understands that Nazareth has decided to go to Ras al-Ain and gives him water, and so does his Ottoman savior. When he reaches a well during a sandstorm, Nazareth checks for water but sees that the well is full of corpses. Nazareth soon finishes his water and collapses in the desert but a vision of his wife Rakel gives him strength to reach a group camped in the desert. He buys water and food. While he is eating a girl runs to him begging for help and he realizes that the traders kidnapped her. He asks where she's been taken from: Ras al-Ain. When he reaches that village, he finds that it has been abandoned. He follows a group to a camp where thousands of people, mostly women and children are starving to death, a camp littered with unburied corpses. He looks around until he finds a woman from his village (his sister-in-law) who, before dying in his arms, tells him that she saw his family die. He resumes his trek. Angry at God, he throws stones in the sky. He jumps on a train and rests, but then has to jump out to avoid being discovered. He is found and rescued by a Syrian soap maker, Omar, who takes him to Aleppo (Syria was part of the Ottoman Empire at the time). Omar lives in a large compound where his workers makes soap. Nazareth is hired as one of the workers. Omar is hiding other Armenians. The war ends with the defeat of the Ottomans and the soap factory becomes an overcrowded refugee camp. One large room is used as a movie theater, and Nazareth can laugh for the first time watching a Charlie Chaplin film, "The Kid". But the film also reminds him of his own daughters. At the end of the movie he is recognized by one of his former apprentices, who is happy to see him after six years. The apprentice tells him that, before dying, his wife Rakel gave the daughters to another family. Now the region is full of people looking for their relatives, and Nazareth, who cannot shout like the others, is helped by a fellow Armenian. he is told that there are dozens of orphanages in French-controlled Lebanon. He parts from the good Omar who even gives him a little money and from the Armenian friend. It is 1922 when Nazareth reaches Lebanon. He finally finds a picture of his daughters (now teenagers) in an orphanage: they are indeed alive. He is told that they are married and live in Cuba. Undeterred, he finds employment on a cruise ship as a janitor. He still has nightmares in which he sees and hears his wife. When the ship arrives in Cuba, which at the time was a rich country, Nazareth finds the shop of an Armenian barber as he was instructed. but the barber, Hagob, tells him that the girls have found employment in Minneapolis. The barber gives Nazareth the business card of the industrialist Peter Edelman. The barber kindly feeds the starving Nazareth, lets his sleep as a guest, and helps him send a telegram to the Minneapolis industrialist. The industrialist replies that the girls don't work for him anymore. Still, Nazareth wants to travel to Minneapolis and look for them. The barber helps him get a passage to Florida. Meanwhile, Nazareth works around the town. The barber takes him to mass and in the church Nazareth sees the old man who molested one of his daughters. Nazareth attacks him outside the church and steals his wallet. Nazareth leaves on a boat for Florida and is dropped with other passengers in the swampy part of Florida. A man warns him to watch out for the Ku Klux Klan. He walks along the railroad. When he sees a chicken, he can't resist and tries to grab it but the owner sees him and shoots him. Nazareth manages to steal his gun and some food and then jumps on another train. He travels in a car of the train with other migrants and finally arrives in Minneapolis. At the factory knows they tell him that his daughters may live in North Dakota. A desperate Nazareth works around the industrial city and eventually reaches North Dakota in 1923 as a railroad worker. One day he sees one of the workers trying to rape a woman because she's a "squaw" and Nazareth is the only one who comes to her rescue. The woman escapes but the other workers, furious that he would defend an "Indian", hit him in the head with shovels and leave him for dead. He has the vision of his daughters next to him as he is freezing during the night. He wakes up and starts walking again. He reaches the house of some Armenians, who tell him in which town the daughters are likely to be. In the morning he is walking again. He reaches the town and follows a limping woman. He recognizes her as one of his children (now a woman) and even finds a little bit of voice to whisper her name. She turns and they hug (she doesn't seem surprised that he doesn't speak). He asks where the other daughter is: she died recently of a disease.

Tschick (2016) is based on the novel by Wolfgang Herrndorf, and Der Goldene Handschuh/ The Golden Glove (2019) is an adaptation of Heinz Strunk's 2016 novel.

In the Fade (2017)

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