The Edge of Heaven stands on the verge of more than just the celestial. With one disingenuous foot in the "hyperlink" style of filmmaking—in which several seemingly disconnected plot threads are told out of time, only to conclude with an "a-ha!" finale that unites them—writer/director Fatih Aiken misleads the audience with the assumption of such a solution. His characters, meanwhile, search for and narrowly miss each other, keeping them on the edge of the kind of "heaven" found in closure as well.
The drama is rooted in its six players: Ali (Tuncel Kurtiz) is a septuagenarian Turkish native living in Germany, where he invites the middle aged Yeter (Nursel Köse), a prostitute and fellow expatriate, to live with him in exchange for an income equivalent to what she earned in the brothel. Ali's son, Nejat (Baki Davrak), becomes close to Yeter, and when she is killed by Ali in a drunken fit, Nejat sets off to find her missing daughter, Ayten (Nurgül Yesilçay), a resistance fighter in Istanbul. (Bear with me, 'cause there's more.) Meanwhile, Ayten has fled the Turkish authorities and wound up in Germany, where she becomes the lesbian lover of idealistic university student Lotte (Patrycia Ziolkowska), who, after Ayten is denied asylum by the German government, follows her back to Turkey against the wishes of her mother, Susanne (Hanna Schygulla). Phew.
Indeed, all things are complicated in the lives of these characters, and here they are rendered as utterly sympathetic and flawed. The Edge of Heaven is an eerily acute portrait of the frustrating human condition. When characters die, they are marked as doomed to the audience before even being introduced, through chapter headings like "Yeter's Death"—we are aware of them as being, literally, on the edge of entering heaven. When the film ends, it's abrupt and unfinished, and ultimately induces a pang of recognition in the messy, bottomless, and cyclical condition of life.