Winter Sleep (Kış uykusu) (15)

Winter Sleep (Kış uykusu) (15)

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Cast: Haluk Bilginer, Demet Akbag, Melisa Sözen

Running Time: 3h 16m

English/Turkish with English subtitles


Synopsis:  Aydin, a former actor, runs a small hotel in central Anatolia with his young wife Nihal, with whom he has a stormy relationship and his sister Necla, who is recovering from her recent divorce. In winter as the snow begins to fall, the hotel turns into a shelter but also a trap that fuels their animosities.


Acclaimed director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s latest film has themes of the deep divide between the rich and poor, the powerful and powerless. Set against the epic backdrop of Turkey’s rural steppes (the same location used for Ceylan’s previous film Once upon a Time in Anatolia) and built around long conversations, the film examines the disintegration of a marriage, in minute and intelligent detail. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, it is Turkey’s submission to the Academy Awards for best foreign film.

Set in the strange, unworldly, visual marvel of nature that is Uçhisar in Cappadocia, Bilge’s film is a modern classic with a script by Nuri Bilge Ceylan and his wife Ebru, with clear nods to Chekhov and Dostoyevsky.

Aydin (Haluk Bilginer) is a former actor – or ‘thespian’ as he insists – a rather pretentious man who is wealthy because he has inherited property and a natural rock hotel.  He writes a weekly newspaper column and boasts of working on the definitive history of Turkish theatre.  Living with him at his hotel – named ‘Othello’ – are his recently divorced and unhappy sister Necla, (Demet Akbag) and his increasingly estranged beautiful young wife Nihal (Melisa Sözen), who feels stifled.

There are many long conversations in this film about moral issues, but very little communication. Both Aydin and Nihal make gestures to poor locals which are misinterpreted and cause upset and insult. All three principals lead superficial lives that lack sincerity, with their talk substituting for a lack of action.

Although the film has few major ‘important’ events, the long time frame passes easily. The stunning remote location, with the atmospheric winter closing in, and the superb cinematography of Gökhan Tiryaki help to drive the narrative forward.

Winter Sleep is never less than mesmerising as it uncovers the hypocrisies of its players.

Images courtesy of New Wave Films

Still from Winter Sleep, Nuri Bilge Ceylan's latest Cannes contenderKEY winter-sleep-086454 © nuri bilge ceylan-0-2000-0-1125-crop