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  • 15
  • Drama
  • 2006
  • 102 mins

Climates

Climates

Synopsis

Climates observes the ruins of a weather-worn relationship. Uzak director Nuri Bilge Ceylan writes, directs and stars

About

In the Golden Prix-winning Uzak (2002), it was a full 11 minutes before a character spoke a single line, and even after that the dialogue was kept to a minimum, earning its director Nuri Bilge Ceylan the reputation as a master of long takes and even longer silences.

In Climates too, there are a lot of glassy stares and significant glances before a word is uttered, but the film's eventual first line ("Are you bored?") suggests a filmmaker who is happy to make fun of his own cinematic habits and their possible impact on the viewer.

In fact, Climates is rarely silent. Not only do the characters banter and bicker at length - though their communications tend to be oblique, manipulative and at cross purposes - but the spaces between their conversations are filled with a dense soundscape of birds, dogs, wind, thunder, rain, rattles and creaks, and even the cracklings of a cigarette being smoked, all perfectly rendered by sound engineer Ismail Karadas. Before a single image has been seen on screen, the viewer's ears are beset with the amplified chirpings of insects, foreshadowing the film's 'entomological' approach to its drama. For Climates is a film where the behaviours and rituals of the human species are observed with a chilly detachment and a microscopic sensitivity to nuance.

Like the temple site in Kas where we first encounter them, the relationship between university lecturer Isa (Nuri Bilge Ceylan) and his much younger girlfriend, television art director Baher (Ebru Ceylan) is still standing, but clearly in ruins. A summer vacation of simmering boredom and irritation ends abruptly with Isa suggesting a temporary split, and Baher angrily leaving him. Isa spends the following autumn at home in Istanbul, making a token effort to work on his still unfinished doctoral thesis and occasionally visiting his ex-lover Serap (Kesal, who also played the lover in Uzak) for rough, noncommittal sex.

Finally, Isa decides to abandon his plans for a lonely winter holiday in sunnier climes, instead heading to a snowy town in Turkey's east, where he has heard Baher is doing location work, hoping for a thaw in their relations and a shelter from his own loneliness.

Like Eric Rohmer's Tales Of The Four Seasons series, Climates sets the modulating phases of a relationship against the shifting temperatures of the year, often to ironic effect. For here it is in the bitterest chill of mid-winter that the possibility of reconciliation and a new beginning emerges - even if we are left to suspect that the same old problems for Isa and Baher will be renewed in the coming spring.

In this pessimistic portrayal of the gulf that exists between men and women, the focus is on Isa and his infuriating blend of paternalism, childishness, irresolution and self-delusion. He is hardly a likable character, but Ceylan's presentation of his foibles (as director, writer and actor) is honest enough to make for some bleakly droll humour - as well as some uncomfortable moments of recognition for men in the audience.

Immaculately shot and framed on digital cameras, Climates is full of elegant, lingering takes and a sharp contrast between close-ups and wide shots that emphasises the characters' alienation and distance from each other.

If the film's languid pacing, its poker-faced performances and the apparently inconsequential nature of its dialogue all suggest an improvised variety of naturalism, then the thematic symmetries between the film's three sections, some fluid tricks in the editing, and the recurring motif of the weather, all betray a much more tightly crafted piece, where the art rests in the art's concealment.

A romantic comedy set after the romance has long since died, Climates is a very adult film about adult relationships, reviving the spirit of Antonioni for the twenty-first century.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Semra Yilmaz, Arif Asçi, Emin Ceylan, Nazan Kesal, Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Ufuk Bayraktar, Fatma Ceylan, Mehmet Eryilmaz
  • Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
  • Screen Writer: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
  • Photographer: Gökhan Tiryaki
  • Composer: Ismail Karadas

In a nutshell

Dress warm for this chilly dissection of the irreconcilable gulf between men and women. Acutely observed, artfully executed, and grimly funny.

by Anton Bitel

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