Winter Sleep (2014)

Comments Off on Winter Sleep (2014) 31 May 2015

winter sleep

Studio: Kino / Adopt Films

Theatrical Release: December 19,2014 (limited, USA)

Blu Ray Release: May 5, 2015

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Not Rated

Review by James Klein

Winner of the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014 and highly acclaimed by the film critics of Variety, Chicago Tribune, and the Village Voice, Winter Sleep while beautifully shot and very deep, can cause depression among viewers. Namely myself as this movie is just a three hour long downer. Maybe one needs to be in the right mood but I had a hard time getting through this one as it was an exhausting chore.

The film centers on Turkish land owner Aydin (Haluk Bilginer who looks like a Turkish Gian Maria Volonte from A Fistful of Dollars) who runs a secluded bed and breakfast in a small town in Turkey. He lives with his young wife Nihal (Melisa Sozen) and sister Necla (Demet Akbag) who all have a complicated relationship with one another. Aydin is able to express himself on the side by writing a small column in a weekly paper who he bounces ideas and thoughts off of with his sister. Aydin tries his best to be the honest, smart, and straight and narrow man he believes he is but cannot help but feel contempt for those that are not like him or at least try to be the person he himself sets himself out to be.

When a small child throws a rock at his car while driving into town, Aydin gets mixed up with a lower class family who is trying their best to pay off the rent that they owe Aydin. This sparks Nihal to try to do something with her life other than being the polite wife who knows her place. While she has very little communication with her husband, she sets out to try and help this family without Aydin knowing about it.

Winter Sleep has themes regarding resentment, regret and deep routed bitterness especially amongst family and loved ones. While this is true in every family, the film slowly (and I mean slowly) moves along to a less than climatic realization that Aydin cannot live without his wife regardless that she has fallen out of love with him. While there are touching moments such as Aydin letting go of a horse than he had gotten at the beginning of the film, symbolizing letting go of his wife, Winter Sleep can put one to sleep if watched while tired or in a different frame of mind. It’s a sad and dreary film and certainly not fun to watch or revisit.

This is not to say that Winter Sleep is bad as the acting by all of the leads and co-stars are very good as well as the stark cinematography of the beautiful mountain landscapes. Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan certainly loves his long shots which is sorely lacking in most Hollywood films. Although the film is tough to watch because of its dreariness, Winter Sleep is at least gorgeous to watch. But why oh why did this slow moving character drama have to be over three hours long?

The blu ray looks amazing however the film is presented in 40 GB.  For a film that is a little over three hours long it is not too unreasonable to provide a dual layer blu ray (50 GB capacity) that could comfortably hold up to 4 hours of HD video, is it? There is not one single extra on this blu ray, not even a trailer nor a chapter selection. The Turkish subtitles are also burned into the picture which is a pet peeve of mine. While the blu ray does say the film was given a 5.1 surround sound presentation, many reports that I have read say it was actually a 2.0 presentation. With very little action that takes place in the film, I barely noticed.

Winter Sleep is a fine film, there is no question or argument about it.  It is visually gorgeous with some fine performances that help alleviate the film for me to recommend. But only for those that like long, drawn out, human dramas with very little action.

Movie Rating: ★★★☆☆

Blu Ray Rating: ★★☆☆☆


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