Winter Sleep

Winter Sleep ★★★★½

Nuri Bilge Ceylon's butt-numbing three plus hour epic Turkish chamber drama is every bit as deserving of its Palme D'Or win than any film with bestowed with that pair of wheat icon. This languidly paced, superbly written melodrama has the look and feel of those old European art house films exemplified by the likes of Bergman et al. Indeed, structured as it is entirely around a few weighty conversations one wealthy landowner has with his closest family and beautiful young wife over the course of one long winter where the bitter, self righteous misanthrope gradually comes to a clearer understanding of who he is and how people see him, it is the dark, spiritual chamber dramas of Ingmar Bergman that draw the closest comparison. I'll admit the length is an issue but looking back its hard to imagine what could be dropped. By the end of the film there's such a brilliant and deep understanding of this man and the people around him in this rural Turkish hotel and village that I really didn't mind the running time. When it was over there was a overwhelming sense of profound catharsis not unlike reaching the end of a dense Russian novel. The story is rich and the characters are almost unbearably human. There's an air of tragedy around it but it never plays anything up for histrionics. The tragedy is slow-moving and deeply emotional. No one dies and there are no screaming matches. The tragedy comes from a slow burning realization; of who you are and more importantly, who you failed to be. We, and for that part the hero of the film, come away with not much of a dramatic release but a deep, heartfelt understanding of the complexities of relationships and the utter failures of wealth and power.