PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Reviews

'Winter Sleep' Is a Cinematic Essay on Emotional Collapse

Filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan captures the haunted air of a quiet Turkish village in his Palme d'Or winning film.


Winter Sleep

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Cast: Haluk Bilginer
Distributor: Adopt Films
Year: 2014
US DVD release date: 2015-05-05

Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a Turkish filmmaker celebrated for his highly atmospheric and deceptively placid films, specializes in the kind of meditative slow-burners that secured Ingmar Bergman’s rank as one of cinema’s deepest thinkers. Often frustrating and challenging viewing, Ceylan’s films have provided the world a revealing window into Turkish life; every movement in story and character is a recorded act of culture. Not one who is compelled to simply entertain an audience, Ceylan makes the serious choice of forcing viewers into a lone confessional space where, for much time on end, they are confronted with a humiliating display of unleashed inner demons. Depending on how you look at it, this is either a good or bad thing.

If you’ve ever rubbernecked at a heated and private argument, you might just have more than a passing interest in what Ceylan has to offer. Winter Sleep (a Palme d'Or winner at Cannes) is a Dionysian showcase for the exposed nerves of inhibited emotion. We see the cruel exchanges of bickering families, warring neighbours, and discontent married couples who, under the dawning winter in the Turkish countryside, struggle (unhappily) to coexist with one another peacefully.

At the center of the story is Aydın, a failed actor who has inherited a family hotel located on a mountaintop in Anatolia following his father’s death. With him live his divorced and pessimistic sister Necla and his very young wife, Nihal. Aydın, a bored middle-aged man, lives off his inherited money but spends much of his time writing columns for his local newspaper. His perpetually dissatisfied and critical sister assures him that no one reads his work and that his writing is pompous, sentimental sap. Aydın’s wife is an uncertified and unpaid educational worker; she doles out money to fundraisers in the pursuit of earning a respected title amongst the regional board of education. Aydın can’t help but stick his nose where is doesn’t belong, feeling somewhat entitled since the people in his life live off his money and under his roof. Aydın doesn’t mind that his wife borrows his money or that his sister loafs around. But his goodwill comes at a price; they must endure his overbearing sense of piety in exchange for comfort and security. Both his companions live under the shade of nervous acquiescence, but quietly there rages the fires of indignation, waiting to burn Aydın at first chance.

If you’ve never cared to walk in on a salty dispute between two parties, no matter how juicy and salacious, you’ll have to pass on Ceylan’s essay on the disillusionment of cultural mores. There are generously lengthy scenes of people locked into dialogues of poisonous temperament; many exceed the ten-minute mark, and what you get is an entire picture of people who virtually do nothing but talk. It’s sure to leave many unmoved and frustrated. But Ceylan examines alienated life with the considered eye of a filmmaker who has arranged these conversations like the dialogues in an Edward Albee play.

It’s no surprise, then, that his film was inspired and loosely based on a story by Chekhov, a writer of sensitive understatement. Aydın’s psychological circling of his discontent, his inability to grasp the very strand of awareness in a situation of emotional collapse, is drawn with careful detail. Ceylan captures the moody and troubled proceedings with the great help of Gökhan Tiryaki’s crisp and tonally subtle cinematography, which evokes the haunted, mountainous air of a quiet Turkish village.

Adopt Films’ Blu-ray release is a bare-bones disc with no extras or liner notes. The picture presented is beautifully rendered with crisp, clear images, and solid colours. Sound comes through cleanly and the film is in Turkish with English subtitles.

Winter Sleep shares much of its enigmatic and somnolent atmosphere with other celebrated Turkish efforts like Semih Kaplanoğlu’s Yusuf Trilogy (which includes the films Yumurta, Süt and Bal) and many of the works by Reha Erdem. Such films place an undying focus on the human condition, choosing to frame actors within a scope of minimal activity. Ceylan’s film of people caught in the winter of their despair will surely unnerve those who can’t imagine anything more grating than listening to people talk for three hours. But those who discover a most violent impetus in the exchange of bitter words will enjoy this human drama of contrition.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.