Winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes, the new film from Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) is an immersive, meditative chamber drama about a small-town innkeeper whose cultural pretensions and smug self-satisfaction are fatefully undermined over the course of an eventful winter.

Masters

Winter Sleep

Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Nuri Bilge Ceylan has gained a reputation as one of the most innovative and accomplished filmmakers of the early twenty-first century. Winter Sleep, winner of the prestigious Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, is a magnificent addition to his growing filmography. Following on the success of Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Ceylan has made a multi-faceted work that is in many ways a departure from its predecessor.

Set in the picturesque and striking landscape of Cappadocia in Central Anatolia, Winter Sleep focuses on a small village, half-empty, in the wintry off-season. In its three-hour-plus running time it follows a kind of local celebrity, Aydin (Haluk Bilginer), an actor who runs a small hotel with his wife, writes a column for the local newspaper, and is toying with the idea of producing a book on Turkish theatre.

Like all the villagers, Aydin has time on his hands, but as Ceylan's film progresses, the director carefully strips away the veneer that surrounds this self-satisfied and insular man. Through some magnificent set pieces, beautifully written and performed, we get a close look at Aydin's interactions with his wife, his recently divorced sister, and a family of locals who are tenants of one of his properties.

With a steady, penetrating gaze reminiscent of that which Ingmar Bergman brought to his chamber pieces, Ceylan cuts through the smug self-image of a man who considers himself above the quotidian but is ultimately brought face-to-face with who and what he truly is. Controlled and spare while using its length to its advantage, Winter Sleep is compelling, hypnotic, and absolutely deadly in its aim.

PIERS HANDLING

Screenings

Thu Sep 04

Scotiabank 9

Industry
9:15am
Fri Sep 05

TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Regular
3:00pm
Sun Sep 14

TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Regular
9:00pm