Dir/scr: Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Turk-Fr. 2006. 97mins.
In 2002, Turkish director NuriBilge Ceylan made his mark on the Cannes competitionwith Distant (Uzak). That, his third feature,struck many audiences as a resounding blow in favour of the great art-cinematradition of films as contemplative, thematically rich personal essays. Ceylan's growing reputation as a contemporary classic isconfirmed by the immensely satisfying Climates,which is certainly as personal as anything we're likely to see in Cannes, oranywhere else, this year.
The director stars oppositehis wife, Ebru Ceylan, as acouple undergoing a painful break-up. But far from raising suspicions oftherapeutic self-indulgence, Ceylan's complex, subtlefilm will repay multiple viewings - especially given his rich, precise use ofhigh-definition digital video. Climatesshould achieve healthy exports, and reinforce Ceylanas a festival presence to reckon with.
The Ceylansplay an Istanbul couple, Bahar (EbruCeylan) and Isa (Nuri Bilge Ceylan), first seen ona summer holiday, during which something is evidently going wrong between them.A pricelessly taut dinner with friends shows their relationship start tounravel; things come startlingly to a head during a motorbike ride.
After the couple go theirseparate ways, university teacher Isa bumps into Serap (Kesal), an old flame withwhom, it's implied, he cheated on Bahar. Althoughshe's seeing a friend of his, Isa follows theglamorous Bahar home, and in a troubling extendedshot, forces his attentions on her. Later, Isafollows Bahar to a remote, snowbound province whereshe is working on a film shoot. A rapprochement appears to be in the air, butit's clear that Isa is not nearly as capable ofchange as he insists.
Like its predecessor, Climates tells a complex, understatedstory about the emotional distance between people, and about the psychicrepressions and unshakable habits that hamper men (undeniably, this is rathermore Isa's story than Bahar's,as she is out of the picture much of the time). The maturity of Ceylan's storytelling is evident from his refusal to tellus too much: he prefers silences and finely-tuned facial expressions providethe nuances we need to fill in the blanks for ourselves. In terms of what facescan express, without ever doing too much, Climatesputs Ceylan on a par with Ingmar Bergman.
In this respect, Ceylan benefits greatly from the use of high-definition,for its extreme precision in capturing shifts and uncertainties on faces, butalso for its clarity in registering other aspects of people's physicalpresence: moments of the film almost come across as a tenderly painted portraitof Ebru Ceylan's hair.
At once the film's mostmoving and most disturbing aspect is Ceylan's castingof himself and his wife as the troubled couple. This should not necessarilysuggest that Climates is in any wayan autobiographical portrait of marriage difficulties, yet Ceylanclearly wants us to be aware of, and to speculate on, the unusuallyclose-to-home nature of his drama. It has often been apparent, however, that Ceylan is playing with aspects of his own life - the heroof Distant inhabited the director's Istanbul flat, and here Ceylan'sown parents have affecting cameos as Isa's mother andfather.
If Isareally does resemble Ceylan, then Climates surely offers one of the mostmerciless self-portraits ever seen in cinema: Isa isinsecure, faithless and selfish, excessively needy and with a violent streakwhich emerges in his assault on Serap. He's far from unlikeable, though, which bears witness to Ceylan's warm if sometimes doleful screen presence. Byvirtue of her role, Ebru Ceylanis by necessity a more distant figure, but especially in those scenes where Bahar's feeling suddenly become wordlessly apparent, she'simmensely affecting.
Overall, Climates is more ofa chamber drama than Ceylan's earlier films, althoughthe imagery gradually opens out to take in more of the poetically-shotlandscapes that are a Ceylan trademark. It's futileto argue about whether or not Climatestops Distant, but either way, Ceylan's latest hints at a richness, complexity andsubtlety of feeling that are rare even among today's most revered blue-chipdirectors. In his pensive, undemonstrative way, Ceylanis making films as rewarding, and as adult, as any director alive.
Co Production Ltd
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Nuri Bilge Ceylan