Winter Sleep

Winter Sleep ★★★★½

I found it hard to settle on a star rating for this beautiful, mesmerising, really bloody long film. I went from a 4 and a half, down to a 4, back to 4 and a half, up to 5 and then finally back to where I started. The film is so long and dense that even within scenes (some well over 15 minutes in length) you will find yourself going up and down in your feelings on the film.

That is what is most striking about Winter Sleep. The film is full of conversations; and through the length of these discussions I found myself going back and forth with which character's POV I was siding with, as they changed subject matter. It is an extremely well-written work, the likes of which I have rarely encountered.

With the characters there is similar effectiveness in their greyness and complexity. The acting is superb all-round, with Haluk Bilginer leading the way. On screen for most of the 3+ hour run time, he delivers a full, rich piece of acting. I don't know if I liked or hated his character in the end, I went back and forth that many times. He is supported by the wonderful Melissa Sozen as his young wife and Demet Akbag as his sister. Even the characters with far less screen time are given the opportunity to shine, and all are at times wholly sympathetic and at others, completely unlikeable.

It's a bit of a slog, but I imagine anyone giving this a go will take something out of it. It's a completely un-biased piece of work examining the way different classes of people view society, religion and various other processes; and its dialogue-heavy style will not suit some. But if you have any interest in getting an in-depth in-sight into how Turkish people live (not to mention their breath-taking surrounds) I highly recommend Winter Sleep.

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