Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Chekhovian tour de force Winter Sleep is an absorbing masterwork that slowly but inevitably draws one in, with its deft interplays between deeply human characterizations, simmering marital dysfunction and quietly lacerating class commentaries. Its sprawling runtime of over 3 hours might appear formidable, but the rich tapestry that it paints through its conversational narrative and leisurely pacing, complemented by its harshly beautiful backdrop – rugged, ravishing landscapes have always formed dominant aspects in Ceylan’s films (Uzak, Climates, Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, The Wild Pear Tree) – arrests one psychologically, viscerally and visually. The film’s central protagonist Aydin (Haluk Bilginer) – former stage actor, wealthy proprietor of a stunning boutique hotel in Anatolia, owner of land and properties across the region, contributor of mildly pedantic articles to a local newspaper, and working towards composing a definitive book on Turkish theatre – is a person of compelling contradictions; while he seems a benevolent, gentle-natured, rational, reasonable, sociable and even-tempered man, he considers himself at a higher intellectual and moral ground than those around him, and thereby patronizes and is even contemptuous of those he considers beneath him; and, he’s also pompous, quietly arrogant and is filled with self-deluding class prejudice. Through a series of engrossing interactions, captured through a string of terrific performances, Ceylan portrayed the interpersonal and broader social dynamics – his abrasive, barely sustained marriage to his stunning, much younger wife (Melisa Sözen) who’s come to deride him for her devastating loss of personal sense; his seemingly placid but volatile relationship with his divorced sister (Demet Akbağ); the troubling relationships with two of his tenants whose financial difficulties he’s glibly oblivious of; and his callous bossism over his exasperated chauffeur.
Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Genre: Drama/Marriage Drama/Family Drama