Internationally acclaimed Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan has won prizes at major film festivals all over the world, but it wasn’t until last May, after being nominated four times, that he finally took home what is probably the topmost prize of all, the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or. It was for WINTER SLEEP, a “richly engrossing and ravishingly beautiful magnum opus” about Aydin, a former actor who runs a small hotel in central Anatolia with his young wife Nihal and his sister Necla, who is recovering from her recent divorce. “A Chekhovian meditation on a marriage that returns to the mood of the director’s early films like Climates and Clouds of May,” this “patient, beautiful, painful, engrossing film pits husband and wife against each other and their world in a series of extended conversations/confrontations.”
Indiewire’s Eric Kohn recently interviewed Mr. Ceylan and posted this piece:
Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan makes deeply atmospheric movies filled with long pauses and delicate visual schemes, so it’s no surprise that he tends to hold back when talking about his work. That includes “Winter Sleep,” which won the Palme D’Or at Cannes last May and opens in New York this weekend. Asked in a recent e-mail interview if landing the biggest prize in the global film scene felt like a different sort of validation after gathering acclaim for his work for nearly 20 years, Ceylan kept it simple: “I don’t know.”
He used that phrase a lot. Like his films, Ceylan is a mystery who requires a certain amount of scrutiny to appreciate.
The story of “Winter Sleep,” which runs over three hours, finds the director dealing with the travails of greedy landowner Aydin (Haluk Bilginer), who owns a vast plot of land and lords over its impoverished inhabitants while bickering with his younger wife (Melisa Soezen). Over the course of the movie, the Scrooge-like man confronts his shortcomings, both personally and professionally, through a series of extensive monologues punctuated by telling pauses.
That’s typical for Ceylan, whose other acclaimed dramas — which include the slow-burn chronicle of a police investigation, “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia,” and the devastating tale of a crumbling relationship “Climates” — tend to quietly develop narrative through behavior and stunning imagery that harkens back to his roots as a photographer. “Winter Sleep” finds Ayden often gazing out his window at a barren land, an image that has near-biblical ramifications, even as the character’s specific situation has more to do with internal struggles. The approach has its rewards for viewers willing to let the experiential nature of Ceylan’s storytelling wash over them. But that’s obviously a limited crop: Released in the U.S. late in the year by Adopt Films, the movie is a major hidden gem on this year’s release calendar.
Read the rest of the Indiewire piece by clicking here.