Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey’s blue riband director, has come up with another totally assured film in Winter Sleep. The controversial point about it is that it’s three hours and 15 minutes long. It has a once famous actor, who now owns a hotel in wintry Anatolia, discovering that both his young wife and his recently divorced sister, are sick to death of his dominating and arrogant behaviour.
The film, a long, and perhaps overlong, conversational chamber piece with clear bows to Checkov, is precisely structured, finely written and superbly acted. It has to be a Palme D’Or candidate along with Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner, as the actor-hotelier discovers what other people think of him and gradually becomes aware of his eccentrically overbearing personality. But doubts remain about its length since several obvious sequences clearly last longer than they need. Ceylan is very much a world-class film-maker but perhaps needs to reflect that, though we greatly admire him, we can’t always give him totally free rein.