November 13, 2014
Aydin (Haluk Bilginer) is a wealthy man, a former actor who now runs a hotel in Cappadocia. He also writes a column for the local newspaper, and is researching for his planned book about the history of Turkish theater. Nihal (Melisa Sözen) is his beautiful and much younger wife. Necla (Demet Akbag) is his divorced sister.
Also involved the family of Aydin's poor tenants who could not pay their rent for several months already. The friendly and gregarious Hamdi appeals for compassion, while his older brother, the impetuous jobless ex-con Ismail and his sullen young son Illyas, could not hide their contempt for their landlord.
This film is about the various conversations and confrontations between these people. These may begin as abstract debates about not resisting evil or boredom or donations, yet they all end up being very personal. There is no real plot, just a lot of seemingly random dialogue. Although, there are arguments that seemed endless and repetitive, these confrontations were eloquently written with very meaningful words for both sides of the issue. These long talky scenes were riveting despite their length and you hang on to every word they were saying as they drip with wisdom, wit, bitterness and sarcasm. The performances of these fine actors of these flawed characters were faultless and so natural in the delivery of their complex lines.
The cinematography of this film is so amazingly beautiful as it magically captured the unique topography of Cappadocia during the wintertime. There were several picture-perfect and haunting scenes throughout, specially those about the Anatolian horse, the cemetery, the train tracks, the tree with the birds, the rabbit in the brush, the town, the hotel -- all covered with pristine snow. The close-ups of the actors were all so perfectly framed to achieve maximal drama. The use of mirrors to vary the camera shots were very good.
I admit that the 3-hour and 16-minute length of this film can be felt. However, you do not really mind this time running as you listen to intellectually-stimulating emotionally-rich conversation. This film is a masterpiece of world cinema by acclaimed Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, truly worthy of its Palme d'Or during the Cannes Film Festival this summer. This should be a shoo-in to at least be nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film. 9/10.