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A Lengthy Ovation Pushes Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Winter Sleep" to the Front of Cannes' Pack

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire May 16, 2014 at 4:56PM

But some critics found the three-hour tale of privileged ennui simply a snooze.
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Winter Sleep

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.

This article is related to: Cannes Film Festival, Nuri Bilge Ceylan


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