by Mark Wilshin
With a credit list that includes Chekhov, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky and Voltaire, it’s no surprise that Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep is a profound examination of the way we live in the world. The minimal plot of this Palme d’Or winner revolves around retired actor, hotelier, landlord and writer Aydin (Haluk Bilginer), and his relationship with his younger wife Nihal (Melisa Sözen) and his sister Necla (Demet Akbag). A well educated, honest and conscientious man as well as selfish, spiteful and cynical, Ceylan explores the intricacies of personality – the compromises that bruise and the self-deceptions that keep our dignity alive. Like winter, Aydin spreads an unintentional withering coldness about him – slyly pulling strings and finding fault with the world around him in weekly articles for the local paper. But Winter Sleep also delves into our place in the world – our desire to expiate our good fortune with philanthropy and the pride that refuses pity or hand-outs. With a haunting refrain from Schubert’s Sonata in A Major, nuanced performances and beautifully subdued cinematography by Gökhan Tiryaki, Winter Sleep is a very Russian take on the meaning of life on the Anatolian steppes.
Winter Sleep is showing on Oct 18th & 19th at the 58th BFI London Film Festival