Winter Sleep

Winter Sleep ★★★★★

Tiff 2014 capsule - film 2

I took the train from Paris to Milan a long time ago and I remember looking out the window at the majestic mountains admiring them, of course, but it wasn't until we got into Northern Italy that I found them beautiful and alive. It was there that real life was sprinkled throughout the mountains, with clotheslines everywhere and junkyards and swing sets. It was there that I loved those mountains.

Give Nuri Bilge Ceylan the most beautiful setting in the world and he will show you the clotheslines. It is why I trust him. I will listen to anything he wants to tell me because I know that whatever story he tells, it will be true. He is one of the few writers (along with his co-writer spouse Ebru Ceylan) from whom I will take pronouncements on life and meaning and philosophy, not because he says things that have not been said before, but because he knows how to say them. His talent is an astute sense of observation. He knows what it sounds like when real people think big ideas.

Many writers and directors think that big ideas should be the point of a film or its theme, and they get wrapped up in their ideas, filling the film with Symbolism and Metaphor and other such things I have difficulty digesting. Ceylan doesn't want to present majesty. He doesn't want to be clever. He doesn't want to show off. He wants to honour people and how they live. He wants to show people as they are. People who argue, people who are alone, people who have grand ideas, people who lie, people who manipulate, people who get caught and feel shame. His characters are true because they are real. And like real people, they have ideas. Some think pride is everything, others believe charity is most important virtue, some wonder if forgiveness might be the answer to everything while some think there are too many bleeding hearts in the world. Still others just want to see the end of the day without ruffling any feathers.

The magic of Winter Sleep is that these very real people interact the way very real people interact and watching them is as captivating an experience as I am likely to ever get out of a film.

Ceylan loves real people, flaws and all, and it shows in the care he takes with his characters. It helps that his actors are some of the best I have ever seen, but perhaps their task is made simpler because their words are words that could be spoken naturally.

Ceylan keeps it real. It is why I trust him.

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