Sitcom farce, sexual violence and cross-cultural clashes all collide in Fatih Akin’s Head-On, an unconventional romance that’s ultimately more provocative than insightful. After deliberately running his car into a wall (to the sounds of Depeche Mode’s “I Feel You”), German Turk – and Bukowski-style bum – Cahit (Birol Ünel) finds himself in a psychiatric clinic, where he meets a suicidal woman named Sibel (Sibel Kekilli) who so desperately wants to escape her conservative Turkish family that she convinces Cahit to marry her. A union of convenience that eventually develops into something more meaningful, Cahit and Sibel’s relationship has a fiery self-destructiveness that climaxes during a bedroom rendezvous in which sexual consummation poses a dire threat to the mismatched couple’s platonic detachment. Throughout, Akin deftly manages his story’s severe fluctuations between humor and hostility, giving his film a gritty gravity that’s only slightly sullied by a few too many pop cultural signifiers (such as the Siouxsie and the Banshees poster that’s constantly in view). More problematical, however, is that although Cahit and Sibel’s predicament is meant to comment upon German-Turkish tensions, the film finds itself so preoccupied with wrist-slashing, voracious screwing, and musical interludes (featuring a folk band on a river bank) that, unlike the similar, far superior Late Marriage, it eventually winds up only superficially examining its narrative conflicts between love and sex, modernity and tradition.