Saw this yesterday. It’s directed by Über-auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey’s answer to Abbas Kiarostami (Ceylan is far more interesting), and won the Grand Prix award at Cannes this year. It’s Ceylan’s sixth film. I’ve seen the previous four, Clouds of May, Distant, Climates, and Three Monkeys. Didn’t care for the first but the others were quite good (and I particularly liked ‘Distant’). These are not films for the masses, and definitely not this one. It is, to quote one critic,
a long, slow, hypnotic film that explores the human condition through side glances and offhand remarks, caring very little about time, especially the viewer’s time, in eventless sequences without conventional action.
Though it’s over 2½ hours long—and with the first hour-and-a-half taking place at night—, it held my attention throughout. Quoting another critic, the film proceeds
at a slow, measured pace, telling a story that in anyone else’s hands would have barely been enough for a short, this is however a visually mesmerising piece of work whose quiet, apparently placid, uneventful surface, covers a myriad of themes which the attentive spectator should be only too happy to explore… For, in Anton Chekhov’s spirit, which is hovering all over this picture, it is not to the plot itself one should pay attention, but to the countless, presumably irrelevant details strewn along the way… It takes time – and indeed time is of essence all through this film… Patience is amply repaid by the end, when all those details come together, and one realises there is much they have learned in the course of the film about all these predictable, unspectacular individuals who end up by being both touching and affecting. The outcome is fascinating, not only on a personal level, but also as a profoundly perceptive portrait of the Turkish multi-leveled culture and society… This is not just consummate cinematography, though of course it is, but the kind of creative, painterly talent echoed in all of Ceylan work as a still photographer.