Winter Sleep ★★★★½

Last month’s Palme d’Or winner from Nuri Bilge Ceylan (the extraordinary Once Upon A Time In Anatolia) is a riveting, beautifully photographed portrait of middle-age re-evaluation and revelation in historically and economically crippled Anatolian isolation. In addition to being an honest and insightful study of a writer and their creative influence, it is about the divide between the rich and the poor in Turkish society, a strained marriage emotionally unravelling and a clinical observation of how a man reacts when his character, his deceptively content personality, is dissected and criticized. After an incident with one of his tenants, a member of a struggling family who have fallen behind on rent, Mr Aydin (a wonderful Haluk Bilginer) is forced to re-consider not only his closest relationships, but also the way he carries himself and how he is viewed by the very town he ‘presides over’.

Once a celebrated theatre actor, he now runs the hotel formerly owned by his wealthy father and is the landlord for most of the village. He also pompously and self-importantly expresses his opinions in a weekly column for the local newspaper, topics drawn from his dissatisfaction with humanity, and the actions of the lower classes. This is a very long film - 196 mins - but the lengthy conversations (often debates and arguments) are so engrossing, the characters so interesting, and the thematic density so challenging, that it was never a burden. Set amongst one of the most stunning film locations in recent memory, this leaves a viewer with an immense amount to process.

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