Winter Sleep

Winter Sleep ★★★★

Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s new film ‘Winter Sleep’ is a family drama set on a stunning mountain hilltop hotel in Anatolia, Turkey. The ageing Aydin (Haluk Biginer) is the wealthy hotelier, a retired actor who owns a lot of the properties in the area, and spends his days writing for his local newspaper.

Aydin is married to the much younger Nihal (Melisa Sozen), and his divorced sister Necla (Demet Akbag) lives on the premises too. Wealthy to the point where he doesn’t need to worry about anything, Aydin casually mopes around finding something to do, and generally creating a nuisance of himself. Most people tend to have a reason to dislike him, and this includes his own family. With his wealth extended to his family, these people spend their days doing nothing but still hanker after making a life of purpose.

So much time on their hands leads to bitterness, as evidenced in the ongoing bites and petty quarrels between the three of them. Nihal is the curious one, who lives separately from Aydin who gives her the freedom of their modest kingdom. She still feels trapped, blaming Aydin for bringing her down when she’s attempting anything of her own making. He’s made out to be more monstrous than he seems, slowly being forced out of his own home by everyone.

‘Winter Sleep’ is a contemplative, deeply serious study of wealth, family dynamics and communities. Conversations and arguments are often literate and earnest affairs, discussing anything from the role of the artist, the role of muslim men in the community, to enabling evil-doers to uncover their own consciences.

Aided by the stunning Anatolian rock formations, ‘Winter Sleep’ is beautifully shot, especially the final images. One majestic scene involving the capture and calming of a horse is a cinematic marvel, and a troubling study of a mans innate desires superceding all others. Although nothing much happens, everything slowly does, as does in life. Even Aydin is forced to change his ways, whether you are rich or poor you still have to earn your happiness.