Head-On review

This ferocious German drama arrives in the UK clutching Berlin's Golden Bear and the European Film Award for Best Picture. Given the committed, powerful performances that drive this tale of desperation, the shock is that its actors have yet to receive recognition.

Birol Ünel is terrific in the role of Cahit, a permanently pissed-off alkie drinking to forget an unspecified, painful past and contemptuous of his Turkish roots. Sibel Kekilli is unguarded and gutsy as Sibel, the daughter of strict Turkish immigrants who threatens to kill herself unless he weds her. ""I only fuck men"," comes Cahit's typically aggressive reply. But he's drawn to Sibel's spark and enters a marriage of convenience, threatened only when real love starts to grow...

Dread is a prevailing emotion during the tense, anything-can-happen first hour, filtering into a more languid but still resonant final act that's shot through with sadness and understated emotion.

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