„Winter Sleep“ (the film not the Canadian band): a rich reflective life tale in snowy Cappadocia, with even some gunfire.

a wse REVIEW before I read the experts                                             Sunday 16 nov 2014, 514pm

yes 4.5 stars:

Well the scenery and the music surely help, especially if that music brings some of the most profoundly inspiring arresting mind-stalling melodies ever but committed upon by and through the keyboard, by the young dying Franz Schubert, here speaking of piano sonata D859, completed in last months of his life, in Vienna, in his 32nd year.

But that is never enough, no you must start any good film, populate a Good Film with Characters, real people and their lives, their habits, their foibles, their fears, their secret life loves, and their exhortations. Then you snip the ribbon and allow the Characters to engage, to live, laugh and cry, to ride the chaotic kinetic railroad, and never neatly, tossing authentic contradictions and antimonies into the casserole.

And here what a battling bunch! All but the pliable driver and Fatma the housekeeper were wrestling life demons, fleeing their Furies. The main man, Mr A (Aydin?), the retired well-off actor (he preferred ‚thespian‘!) was circling each day (but never starting) his planned History of Turkish Theatre, here in remote rural Cappadocia (and in frosty winter!); the young innocent melancholy attractive wife was striving for meaning within her far off affluent nest, thus was embarked on a charity drive; the writer’s sister, fled from her drunken ex, was wondering if she should not return to him and apologise; the young (35) teacher (Levent or Bullent!?) whom Mr A suspects of nefarious intentions was a keen invitee to the wife’s charity drives (and the cycnical old stager Mr A may be right); Mr A’s lonely old mate is living where he grew up except his parents are long gone, he lately buried his wife, and his daughter lives Istanbul; and finally we have the troubled tenants of Mr A, in the village of Garip Yoku (sic), the young imam and his wild bro Ismael, and Ismael’s wary young son („I want to be a policeman“) who tossed the rock which broke the car window when Mr A and his driver called.

The central character conflict is between Mr and Mrs A, across the divide, such you wonder how and why they ever married in the first place, though one can surmise: he was older, but rich, and she was young and attractive but life-shy. No children? A problem? Not mentioned. So he was intelligent, thoughtful and worldly (wrote a weekly comment column for a local paper, but not a national, as his sister suggested), but he was not empathetic and understanding, a low emotional IQ we say today, and in particular he did not understand, help solve his wife‘s „predicament“, trying to DO something with her life, and being a kind soul in the poor countryside choosing charity work.

And here the narrative takes a clever turn by entangling her good works with Mr A’s troublesome tenants, who we meet when the film opens. Leaping ahead, most would agree Ismael did the right thing with the money the do-gooding Mrs A arrived with late one night. Into the fire! Ironically, a wise move from the short-fused ratbag!

Mr A’s sister is important for ber brother. He can speak, reflect, ponder far more fruitfully with her than his estranged wife. And Mr A’s glum ageing bibulous mate –call him Mr Z – reminds us that we cannot stop the clock. Helpfully too for the story the young teacher is a hunting mate of the widower so a climactic scene locates at Mr Z’s remote family home (cottage), then snowbound, and where the three men get pissed the night before a spot of healthy gunfire (though not alas for the hare). So Mr Z’s homebrew loosens the tongue of the Teach, who appears to have no truck with Morality and Conscience (and here apparently quotes Shakespeare as a supporting source, be plenty of such quotes there?), preferring the sword to the law. From the Lance Armstrong School of Life. Mr A meanwhile is out of practice with this Iron John type boozing and eventually adds some abstract liquid color to the carpet.

The next morning the hungover Mr A with one boot on and one boot off shoots a hapless sleepy hare he stumbles upon, and thereby realises he belongs there, at home after all with his dear wife (Nihal, that’s it), not in Istanbul where he was headed („till spring“), till the weather delayed the train. And like the real man he is he brings home the bacon (aka fresh shot hare) for Fatma to shell and cook, looking up from the snowy yard to see his (still) unsmiling wife at a window, telling us the viewers he loved her after all.

BUT, I think I heard him say, a clue was dropped, that he would somehow not tell her this. So as in all good films – like real life – the ending is left open!! Though an old cynic would not wager too much here on a happy outcome?


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