Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
Original title: Kis Uykusu
Turkey/France/Germany, 2014. Zeynofilm, Bredok Filmproduction, Memento Films Production, Imaj, Arte France Cinema, Centre National du Cinema et de L’Image Animee, Eurimages, Institut Francais, L’Aide aux Cinemas du Monde, Mars Entertainment Group, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Ministère des Affaires Étrangères, NBC Film, The Post Republic, Sinema Genel Müdürlügü, Sony. Screenplay by Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, based on the short stories of Anton Chekhov. Cinematography by Gokhan Tiryaki. Produced by Zeynep Ozbatur Atakan, Muzaffer Yildirim. Production Design by Gamze Kus. Film Editing by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Bora Goksingol. Cannes Film Festival 2014. European Film Awards 2014. Toronto International Film Festival 2014.
The magnificent talent that Nuri Bilge Ceylan has for creating full-bodied characters in sumptuous worlds does not fail him with this personal epic, inspired by a number of short stories by Anton Chekhov. A remote hotel that sees a low number of tourists visiting in the winter is the setting for the human drama that takes place, centering around a wealthy owner who leaves the details of his property management (which also includes a number of local homes and businesses) to his sister and foreman while using his focus on his writing pursuits to mask how oblivious he is to the needs of those less fortunate than himself. His young wife is interested in philanthropy but not quite good at applying this without a fair share of naïveté, and his sister, recently divorced, is having a crisis of conflicting emotions about her decision to leave Istanbul for this peaceful hamlet. These marvelously complicated women express their ideals and opinions and clash fiercely against their male counterpart at a time when business is not distracting them in any other way, their theories and musings then pitted against the rage of their tenants, whose economically straitened circumstances have resulted in a young boy expressing his youthful anger in a minor act of violence that drags his struggling family into an even harder situation than they were already in. To describe its details makes it impossible to capture the manner in which it envelops you as a viewer: long, two-hander conversations should be a lot more boring than they are, and yet three and a half hours of these intelligently created personalities is never a drag. Their experiences touch upon significant aspects of Turkey’s cultural concerns at the same time that they access universal frustrations, the human desire to deal with the complications of life without the hassles of other people’s vulnerabilities, and the selfishness that this can engender, not being something specific to a snowy mountain in Anatolia. It’s far from the most exciting movie you have ever seen, but it enriches and expands you in ways that you deserve to treat yourself to: clear some time for an introspective coffee break afterwards.