5 December 2010 | random_avenger
Outside Turkey, Germany is the home for the largest Turkish community in the world with several millions of people of Turkish heritage living in the country. Naturally, Turkish-German film directors have also started leaving their mark on the country's long cinematic tradition, the most important such filmmaker being F a t i h Akin who is known for movies like Head-On (2004) and The Edge of Heaven (2007). Another director who has examined the relations of Turks and native Germans in his work is Züli Aladag whose 2006 TV movie Rage raised some controversy upon its initial release in Germany.
Among the protagonists of the movie is Felix Laub (Robert Höller), the teenage son of a wealthy university professor of literature Simon Laub (August Zirner). When Felix is repeatedly bullied and robbed by a Turkish gang led by the ruthless thug Can (Oktay Özdemir), the moderately liberal Simon and his wife Christa (Corinna Harfouch) try various methods to sort out the problems between Felix and Can but only seem to make things worse. Ultimately peaceful methods cease to be the only ones considered by Simon and a dramatic showdown is inevitable.
Rage works interestingly on both general and personal levels and avoids giving easy answers to the problems portrayed. In the core of the story is the conflicting relationship of Felix and Can: the former keeps coming back to the latter despite the mistreat, but at times they get along pretty well. By hanging out with Can's gang Felix is probably rebelling against his mild-mannered father who is indeed accused of being aloof even by his wife. Under their successful surface Felix's parents are far from perfect but Can is not free of familial troubles either, although he has caused his situation himself by clinging to his self-applied tough guy image despite his inner insecurity – he is by no means a mere victim of circumstances.
Besides the grassroot level changes in the characters' attitudes, there is an underlying theme of the whole country's stance on problems related to immigration. Demands for tougher laws regarding the matter easily evoke unpleasant connotations to Germany's Nazi past, so the issue is even more sensitive there than in many other countries. During Rage's Funny Games-style finale the suspense thickens pretty excitingly and the viewer becomes anxious to find out how the situation is resolved since it would be tempting to interpret the ending as the movie's message or stance on the issue: who (if anyone) gets killed and is the act portrayed as heroic or cowardly? Without spoiling anything, the story and the mood are rather pessimistic about there being a neat little solution that would satisfy both parties.
Visually the movie is nothing very absorbing and the ending feels slightly rushed, but all in all I think Rage is worth seeing among its peers, i.e. films portraying conflict between ethnic groups. The German protagonists feel realistic enough and the gap-toothed Oktay Özdemir is a great choice for the role of the aggressive Can. I have admittedly not seen many examples of Turkish-German cinema but based on Rage and F a t i h Akin's The Edge of Heaven, there appear to be quality films to be found there.