Movie Week, Day 4: WINTER SLEEP

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WINTER SLEEP (Kis Uykusu)
Turkey, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Winner of the 2014 PALME d’OR FESTIVAL DE CANNES and has been chosen as the Turkish entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards.

This was the opening film of the FILMCOLUMBIA FESTIVAL, on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 in Chatham, NY.

Winter Sleep is the story of Mr. Aydin (Haluk Bilginer), a former actor, who now runs a mountaintop hotel, inherited from his father. The director probes the psychology of this Turkish landowner, as he confronts crises from his young wife, his sister, and his aggrieved tenants. Aydin sees himself as the region’s benevolent ruler, only intervening in the business of the townspeople, below the mountain, when the spirit moves him. What we discover is that almost everyone, including his much younger wife, Nihal, (Melisa Sozen), dislikes Aydin. He writes a pompous column, in the small local newspaper, and is supposedly writing a book on Turkish theatre history, which he has not even started. He leads a more idyllic life than most people around him, where poverty abounds.

When the snow season approaches, the few guests depart, and the tension between Aydin, his wife, his sister who lives with him, mount in long dialogues. Conversations dominate the film, as the inner workings of the characters are slowly exposed. The topics between his wife, sister, the poor family, a farmer neighbor, range from evil to civic responsibility.

Critics were divided because of its reams of dialogue and a very long 196 minute running time, but the film became an early critic’s favorite and did win the grand prize. ┬áSome of the critics at the Cannes festival said: The Telegraph, “bold, beautiful, and very long – film about a failing marriage”, “still fiendishly intelligent stuff from the director, nudging the limits of what we expect of cinema and also why it expects of us; a mighty tale of what becomes of a man when his heart goes into hibernation”; The Guardian, “character study and a “stunning picture”; Huffington Post, called the film a “masterpiece” and there is “movement and growth and self-realization in the characters and none of them are black and white”.

The ending of the film was described as ambiguous by reviewers, leaving parts of the movie to the interpretation of the viewer. This is how I felt and was very taken with this ending. I am still thinking constantly about the film, a day later. I got lost in this world that seemed to balance on the edge of humanity but that was just the surface. Every action revealed deeper meanings, I left the theater feeling nourished and full. Also, take note of the the stunning scenery. Having been to this part of the world recently in Turkey, this film had a reminiscent and nostalgic feel for me. I would now particularly like to see the Anatolian Mountains in a more detailed experience in 2015.

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I loved this film, please see it when you can, and send your comments to me. Thank you!

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Read Movie Week, Day 1: The Two Faces of January
Read Movie Week, Day 2: “Ida” & “The German Doctor”
Read Movie Week, Day 3: My Best Enemy

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