I rather liked this film but I was not quite sure why at first but on reflection! Obviously it wasn’t meant as pure entertainment and I believe that only people with a true love of art house cinema would have got something worthwhile out of Winter Sleep (2014). During the screening at the Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre two people actually walked out shortly into the first hour. It would have been really interesting to find out why and what they originally expected from this Turkish film. Anyone who saw Nuri Bilge Ceylon’s previous movie Once upon a Time in Anatolia (2011) would have had a good idea what to expect! Again we had a slowly unfolding story that’s never in a hurry to reveal its secrets. A raw scenic winter beauty, atmospheric lighting, acting that is so realistic that it could be a documentary, and a minimalist unobtrusive soundtrack that also makes great use of natural sounds all put together by a director that’s at the top of his form. It is a substantial novelistic and theatrical drama that demands the patience of the viewer.
Said to be inspired by Anton Chekhov our main characters are a retired middle-aged actor Aydin (Haluk Bilginer), who has inherited his late fathers estate, which consists of a hotel and some tenanted cottages, Aydin’s manager Hidayet (Ayberk Pekcan) who runs the business and collects the rents, Aydin’s beautiful young wife Nihal (Melisa Sozen) and his divorced sister Necla (Demet Akbag) both of whom live in the noticeably claustrophobic confines of the hotel. All are dependant on the wealthy ex actor, but who do not seem very fond of him, in fact Aydin appears a lonely dejected person who depends on the others to wait upon him hand and foot but there is no real exchange of friendship.
The movie deservedly won the Palme d’Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and was selected as the Turkish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2015 Academy Awards but was not nominated. Again set in Anatolia it examines the significant divide between the rich (the powerful) and poor (the powerless). In time I’m sure that this powerful film will be seen for the great piece of cinematic art it is. Nuri Bilge Ceylon continues to build on his reputation as the Turkish Tarkovsky.
|Nuri Bilge Ceylon with his cast at Cannes.|