If there was an award at the Oscars, Gothams or Spirits for best visionary art cinema of the year, "Climates" would be the clear front-runner. But, of course, there isn't. Directed by Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan ("Distant"), "Climates" is the kind of movie that must be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated. Gorgeously, immacutely constructed, the film is a quiet stunner, and for me, most likely the best movie of the year (if we're counting these days). I will be seeing it again this weekend to confirm my awe and appreciation.
As I wrote after its Cannes debut, where it won the critic's prize, "Turkey's Nuri Bilge Ceylan sharpens his vision like a knife with 'Climates,' a sparse exacting drama - stunningly photographed in crisp Hi-Def digital video - about the separation between a man (played by the director) and his wife (Ebru Ceylan, the director's real-life wife).
"Beginning in the blistering heat of the Turkish coastal town of Kas and ending in the cold snowy Turkish outskirts, the film chronicles the couples' drifting apart and their tentative reunion. In between, the man emerges as a misogynistic, selfish bastard, while the woman comes across as a hardened yet wounded victim. If the depiction seems simplistic, it also feels very true (and funny, in the same dark, physical way "Distant" drew laughs), with each perfectly mapped scene and quiet, tense exchange revealing the insurmountable battle of the sexes."
If you don't believe me, here are some other critics' praise:
"Exquisitely structured, pitiless study of a middle-aged man trapped in a stagnant emotional weather pattern" -- Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwartzbaum
"It has a vivid, sensual texture that's unmistakably Ceylan's. He's one of those rare directors who doesn't need a credit for identification" -- The Onion's Scott Tobias
"This film paints a haunting portrait of existential solitude, one in which the images speak louder and often more forcefully than do any of the words." -- The New York Times's Manohla Dargis
"A terrific movie in the Antonioni tradition, Climates confirms 47-year-old Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan as one of the world's most accomplished filmmakers--handling the end of a relationship and the cloud of human confusion rising from its wreckage as if the subject had never before been attempted." -- Village Voice's J. Hoberman
"A meticulous study of a crumbling relationship, marked by many luminous small moments and a startling interruption of violent eroticism." -- Salon.com's Andrew O'Hehir
"Climates puts Ceylan on a par with Ingmar Bergman.”- Screen's Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily
“Subtle, substantial and sublimely beautiful...Ceylan has lost none of his willingness to probe both the less attractive aspects of everyday human behaviour and the cruel ironies of life, so that the film feels almost painfully honest. That said, he does so with such wit, intelligence and exquisite artistry--if the Festival comes up with more visually stunning film than this, I'll be very surprised--that the film confirms him as one of the most exciting cinematic talents to emerge in recent years.” - Time Out London's Geoff Andrew