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CANNES DAY 3:
WINTER SLEEP (Kış
By Ali Naderzad, Screen Comment,
Our favorite at Cannes this year--thus
Ceylan has already won
accolades for three different films at Cannes
would be difficult to write a review of this year’s Nuri Bilge
Ceylan Cannes film in the space we normally intend for this type of
article in Screen Comment. Our reviews are usually about 350 words and this word
count just would not do it justice (plus, there’s always another movie to go
watch during Cannes). Instead, I’ll give some impressions of it, by far my
favorite one in this 67th edition of
the Cannes Festival, and expand on this later (especially that I had planned
on a second viewing before the end of the festival–overly ambitious?
sleep” is the story of a retired actor-turned-hotelier Aydin (Haluk Bilginer)
who runs a B&B in Anatolia with his sister and his wife (the striking Melisa
Sözen), and coming to terms with the fact that he and his beautiful, and
younger, wife have outlived their marriage. They are no longer a loving couple,
although we are given hints that they used to be (she was a debutante and he was
a very well-known theater actor, they met, they got married).
Bilge Ceylan has accomplished a near-miracle: he
has written and directed a superb and well-paced film and peopled it with
compelling characters whose tortured personalities are allowed to develop over
the arc of the entire film. As in his previous films, Ceylan strikes a
contrast between the vastness of the Anatolian mountain region and the intimacy
of his characters’ development.
We are allowed to peer deeply within these characters’ psyches, Ceylan
peeling away at their flaws and their regrets and also their ambitions in a
deliberate but also subtle manner. As in his previous films seasons provide the
pacing, with winter’s snows slowly covering the surrounding mountains and making
passage ever more difficult for the hotelier, his aide and their guests. The
more the snow falls (it eventually becomes a snow storm), the more the family
becomes torn apart.
Ceylan has stuck to a leitmotiv throughout his films, including this new one:
the enormous strain put up by men in the pursuit of their efforts, without ever
surrendering, in spite of their loneliness, sadness, at times, and the
tragicomic turns of events that thrust them towards their fate. “Winter Sleep”
has a lot more dialogue than previous Ceylan films, some long conversations on
charity, the differences between the rich and the poor or the distinction
between religious and secular people yielding some funny moments. It is a
highly-refined human study, free of manufactured sentiment or cliches. It’s also
the talkiest Ceylan film, ever.
The thing about Ceylan is, he does not try to lure us in–in fact, he probably
doesn’t care all that much about the audience. He tells a story that’s set
within a difficult context (a handful of people stuck in a hotel in the
mountains under a snow storm) and he has told it like no one else has thus far
in this festival. And given the length and the ambition of the project, I’ll
wager that this film will not find an equal in this year’s selection.
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