Hailed worldwide as one of the most accomplished releases of 2007 and/or 2008, depending on a particular country's release date, The Edge of Heaven is kind of a geographically compressed version of Babel. But writer-director Fatih Akin conveys his message more convincingly than Babel director Alejandro González Iñárritu, taking a relatively simple series of intertwined stories and extracting a universal statement on how much people's differences should mean, how much they actually do mean, and the impact of random events on both. What makes The Edge of Heaven sing is that it doesn't get weighed down by Akin's political ambitions. By limiting the central characters to a half-dozen, Akin can spend enough time with each to transform them into real people, not just symbols of the points he's trying to make. This may lead his screenplay off on tangents that go beyond the core essentials of the plot, but these provide the dimension his characters need to connect with the audience. Without putting too fine a point on it, the localized political conflicts of Germans and Turks serve as effective stand-ins for the more prominent contemporary skirmishes Akin encompasses in his themes. What stands out are the unlikely bonds people forge by looking past the obvious defining labels, such as academic, prostitute, terrorist, and mother, and seeing the range of a person's potential. Or when they simply meet on an unspoken level that never introduces such labels in the first place. The Edge of Heaven contains the full spectrum of life's sudden detours, aching low points, destabilizing epiphanies, and open wounds that are utterly uncinematic in their lack of resolution. It closes with a man staring out at the sea, a single-image metaphor for all the emotional and intellectual searching contained within.