Winter Sleep

Winter Sleep ★★★★½

Winner of the prestigious Palme d'Or at 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Winter Sleep arrives with high expectations but succeeds amazingly well in living up to its new-found honour for this Turkish drama is simply one of the most engrossing, mesmerizing & satisfying narratives to surface on the silver screen in the past year, and is definitely one of the best films of 2014.

Set in Anatolia, the story of Winter Sleep concerns Aydın; the wealthy owner of a mountaintop hotel who was once an actor but has since fallen into the hibernation mode over the years. The plot covers the chaos his self-involved persona brings to his small kingdom as the animosity of his loved ones & the poor people under his reign begins surfacing once the winter approaches.

Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the film takes a very methodical, patient & firm approach with its narrative which does a stellar job in slowly unraveling the inner details of the various characters inhabiting this story. The entire story is an amalgamation of one conversation after another but it's how each discussion begins & ends plus seamlessly switches from one to another that makes it such an immersive experience.

The locations are wonderfully chosen, set pieces are finely detailed, the hotel itself creates a calm but secluded ambience which becomes all the more suffocating on the advent of winter. Camerawork is mostly still yet effective plus the landscapes are beautifully photographed, its 196 minutes of runtime never really bothers for the most part, thanks to its breezy storytelling & the score makes its presence felt just when it's required.

Coming to the performances, every single actor here chips in strongly in their given roles & leave nothing to complain about. Haluk Bilginer delivers a magnificent performance as Aydın, and is brilliantly supported by Demet Akbağ & Melisa Sözen who play his sister & wife, respectively. The rest of the cast also shines since each character is deftly scripted & gradually developed which differentiates them from caricatures.

On an overall scale, Winter Sleep is an intensely gripping, masterfully told & exquisitely layered study of a self-righteous character that also takes an interesting look at failing relationships, old age regrets, class divides, and the morals of right & wrong. And despite its challenging runtime, dialogue-driven plot & slow-burn narration, it manages to be a truly immersive & absorbing cinema that's worthy of your time & money. Highly recommended.

Full review at: wp.me/p3KleJ-1q6

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