With movies still unspooling, or whatever the DCP equivalent may be, on the Croisette, the reviews haven't quite caught up to the initial reactions to Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Winter Sleep." But there's a reason Neil Young, who keeps a running tally of the Palme d'Or odds at Jigsaw Lounge, upgraded the film from likely Palme winner to push it even farther ahead of the pack. Scroll past the mixed bag of full-length reviews and you'll see the dropped-jaw tweets that led to a lengthy post-screening ovation for Ceylan's three-plus hour story about a wealthy retired actor and a remote Turkish village. There's a lot of Festivale left to go, but going into the first weekend, "Winter Sleep" seems certain to end up as one of its most talked-about movies.
Reviews of "Winter Sleep"
Xan Brooks, Guardian
In fits and starts, this is a stunning picture. At its best, it shows Ceylan to be as psychologically rigorous, in his way, as Ingmar Bergman before him. And yet still the doubts remain. On this evidence, Ceylan lacks the Swede's banked intensity and his sweet command of a story's arc.
Peter Labuza, Film Stage
Ceylan, who, after becoming the primary arbiter of Turkish cinema around the globe, seems to be entertaining his own version of Bergman’s "Scenes from a Marriage." Progresses Ceylan's ever-evolving narrative and aesthetic strategy into what proves his most emotional and dramatic work, one that makes numerous references to, as well as rivaling, Shakespeare.
Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
The 3 1/2 hour running time takes no prisoners even among art house audiences and demands a commitment to attentive viewing that, despite the film's sometimes terrible longueurs, pays off in the end.
Nikola Grozdanovic, Way Too Indie
With its slow-burning pace, crucially subtle camera movement, and -- the natural highlight -- utterly captivating exchanges between ever person, revealing the fragile cracks of a pathetically self-obsessed nature, "Winter Sleep" is a genuine experience. Even referring to the people in this film as "characters" feels like an offense.
Barbara Scharres, RogerEbert.com
I count myself among the admirers of Ceylan’s past films, but "Winter Sleep" left me puzzled and unsatisfied by a film that talked itself in circles with a somewhat Chekhovian approach to class divisions, moral despair, and the characters’ extensively verbalized dissatisfaction with their lot in life.
Jessica Kiang, the Playlist
Cinema, we’re often told, is a dialogue between audience and filmmaker, a two-way street in which meaning is constructed in space between the words and pictures the director presents, and the mind of the viewer. But Ceylan’s film is a monologue and a relentless one, leaving no room for us to interpret or engage with the material he presents.
— Scott Foundas (@foundasonfilm) May 16, 2014
WINTER SLEEP: Ceylan spins gold in thought & image, morality tale of wealthy man who sins by omission. Woos Palme & scissors. #Cannes2014
— Peter Howell (@peterhowellfilm) May 16, 2014
Winter Sleep (Ceylan): rumbling, Chekhovian, firelit fairy-tale. Beast, beauty, castle in the snow. Often tough-going, but WOW. #Cannes2014
— Robbie Collin (@robbiereviews) May 16, 2014
WINTER SLEEP or How To Check Your Privilege in Anatolia. Hardly action packed but a fascinating & gorgeous look at the bourgeois blues.
— Jordan Hoffman (@jhoffman) May 16, 2014
Winter Sleep (6.4) - Masterfully made, epic theatre piece that says a lot but then also not very much. Beautiful, rambling, moralistic.
— Blake Williams (@Astrostic) May 16, 2014
WINTER SLEEP: the cold embrace of a man's midlife crisis. Gripping, thought-provoking and absolutely stunning #Cannes2014
— FilmLand Empire (@FilmLandEmpire) May 16, 2014
Ceylan's WINTER SLEEP is a largely a fireside debate film that merged Lear with Chekhov and is frankly hard work to watch. Patchily great.
— Nick James (@filmnickjames) May 16, 2014
I should say a lot of critics clearly had a marvelous time. Winter Sleep has been compared to Chekhov (whose plays I also cordially dislike)
— Catherine Bray (@catherinebray) May 16, 2014
Very nearly got shut out of WINTER SLEEP this afternoon, only to swiftly get shut out of the film while watching it.
— Guy Lodge (@GuyLodge) May 16, 2014
Winter's Sleep is wonderful and worth persistence but makes Once Upon A Time In Anatolia seem like a high-speed car chase. #Cannes2014
— Sophie Monks Kaufman (@sopharsogood) May 16, 2014
— michael phillips (@phillipstribune) May 16, 2014
Winter Sleep (Ceylan): 55. Epic portrait of a prick, shot in an amazing location. Admirable, w/a magnificent lead perf, but sooo grueling.
— Mike D'Angelo (@gemko) May 16, 2014