Cracks in Concrete, a captivating crime drama

Kurdish-Austrian director Umut Dag’s second feature film after Kuma, Cracks in the Concrete, lands on 4 April on VoD (as part of the Men on the Edge collection). It’s a gritty crime drama whose tight, damp frames of Vienna are bustling with dark humour stemming from its adolescent criminals’ naive life goals. But make no mistake: the ‘hood is not a place for laughing and joking; it is a place of life and death.

Having served ten years in prison on charges of involuntary manslaughter and possession, Ertan, an ex-con, returns to his hometown, trying to find his way back into the lives of his loved ones, and create some semblance of a normal life, all the while keeping an eye on his 15-year-old son, who never knew him as a father.

The vicious circle of life in the ‘hood is at the heart of Umut Dag’s script, with 15-year-old Mikail (convincingly portrayed by Alechan Tagaev) slowly but surely following in his father’s footsteps.

Recognising the pattern, Ertan (Murathan Muslu) discreetly infiltrates his son’s life, planning not to reveal his true identity to Mikail, but, as the boy gets increasingly tangled up in the unrelenting tentacles of the underworld, Ertan will have no choice by to come out of the shadows, thus setting in motion the film’s dynamic drama.

Thanks mainly to Muslu’s brooding eyes and expressive face – a welcome antithesis to his massive, muscular frame – the lead actor’s esoteric and deeply moving performance gently lifts Dag’s film into Greek-tragedy territory, elevating the script’s conventional plot points to those of a memorable tale of forgiveness and acceptance in a fearful and lonely world.

To find out more about Cracks in Concrete, unveiled at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival:

01 April 2016, by Cineuropa