Cannes Review: Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s ‘Winter Sleep’

May 16, 2014 6:54 PM

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Impenetrably dense, extravagantly wordy and very, very long, safe to say Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Winter Sleep,” before this afternoon’s Cannes screening the bookie’s favorite to take the Palme, won’t be winning him many new fans from the general public. And in its deliberate, almost mischievous delight in eschewing any kind of conventional narrative structure (one in which things occasionally happen), it may even lose him a few, especially among that number (this writer included) inclined to goodwill based on his last film, “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” which, in its embrace of certain genre elements, felt like a breath of fresh air and, strangely, a liberation from the occasionally stultifying vibe of his prior films. But judging by the ovation that followed, for the benefit of the film team who were in attendance as this press screening doubled as the film’s gala premiere (forcing VIP guests into the daft-looking position of having to wear full evening dress in the middle of the day), those already fully on board the Ceylan train will rally around it, maybe, we could cattily suggest, because they simply don’t want to see a hard afternoon’s work (and this film is work) go to waste.

The adjective “Chekhovian” is already being bandied about by the film’s supporters in an effort to convey the film’s claustrophobic theatricality (helpfully, Ceylan includes a “thanks to Chekhov” note in the closing credits to point potentially floundering viewers in the right direction). And the co...

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