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WINTER SLEEP (Nuri Bilge Ceylan). 196 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (January 9). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNNN
Where to watch: Netflix
Some people find Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s films (Three Monkeys, Once Upon A Time In Anatolia) ponderous and excruciatingly long. I find them completely absorbing.
No, they don’t have much dialogue, but I spend a lot of my time watching talky plays. Neither is there much action – but, hey, Ceylan isn’t making thrillers. Film is a visual medium, and he understands the power of mood and pacing, the majesty of landscape and the gradual, subtle shifts that happen when complex people bump up against each other.
The setting for Winter Sleep, which won Cannes’s Palme d’Or in 2014, is an exclusive hotel built into the mountains of Anatolia. It’s owned by Aydin (Haluk Bilginer), a retired actor who now chats with his guests – who are generally well-heeled and looking for something unusual – and maintains some neighbouring properties.
It’s a charged confrontation with a tenant in one of those properties that kicks off this three-hour-plus movie, an event that leads Aydin to reflect on his life as snow gently covers the countryside. When his much younger wife, Nihal (Melisa Sözen), hosts a meeting to help improve a local school, Aydin suspects she has eyes for another man. I should mention that the hotel is called the Othello, tipping us off to possible violence.
But there’s no melodrama in this film, only beautifully observed moments worthy of Chekhov and Bergman.