Directed by Fatih Akin, starring Birol Unel, Sibel Kekilli, Catrin Striebeck, Guven Kirac, Meltem Cumbul, Stefan Gebelhoff, Cem Akin, Aysel Iscan and Demir Gökgöl.

Booze, drugs, fights, casual sex... all in a Hamburg night's work for Cahit Tomruk (Unel). He's a man soul destroyed from the death of his wife some years earlier whose existence, unsurprisingly, gets emptier by the day. In a typical exercise in mayhem, he takes a car, drives it at top speed into a wall and recovers in a psychiatric hospital where he meets another Turkish-German patient, Sibel (Kekilli).

She's there because she slit her wrists and, feeling shackled to her traditionalist family, reckons that Cahit could be the answer to her problem. If he agrees to a sham marriage she'll be able to escape her father and brother and live a life that's pretty close to Cahit's small hours adventures. He initially refuses, but when Sibel proves how serious she is by destroying her arm with a beer bottle, he yields, And what they each think will be a throwaway experience will push them both to the emotional extremes.

"Everything that comes to pass will pass again one day," sings Cahit's pal Seref, and 'Head-On' crams a lot into the lives of misfits Cahit and Sibel. The first 40 minutes are played largely for laughs - so far, so skewed romantic comedy - but living up to the mood swings of the duo, the tone then swerves wildly, plunging you deeper and deeper into darkness.

Akin's multi award-winning film is powerful from the off and never loses its intensity, whether showing the shackles of tradition, the rediscovery of heritage, the burgeoning love between Cahit and Sibel or how far they'll fall when apart. Through it all the chemistry betweeen Unel and Kekilli is perfect, the Mickey Rourke/Dave Gahan lookalike giving one of the best anti-hero performances you're likely to see for some time, with Kekilli growing in power and range as the shot-in-sequence film progresses. You'll care so much about them at the close that you'll be imagining other outcomes for some time afterwards.

The ending you do get won't make you feel good, but it will make you feel more alive.

Harry Guerin