For those who only know Turkish cinema for the no-budget, ultra-zany ripoffs of Hollywood classics, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Climates” will come as an unwelcome surprise. The film is professionally made but a thorough bore at every imaginable level.
Ceylan casts himself as Isa, a professor in a failing relationship with a TV art director named Bahar. She’s played by Ebru Ceylan, the director’s real-life wife, and it’s clear she didn’t get the job because she’s a great talent. Anyway, Isa and Bahar’s relationship has hit a sour point. A vacation turns into an endless fight and they agree to separate. Isa reconnects with his sluttish ex-girlfriend Serap, who engages him in violently passionate sex (there’s plenty of hair-pulling and clothing ripping while they get horizontal). But Isa is still obsessed with Bahar and he follows her to the snowy eastern part of Turkey, where she is working on a TV production.
“Climates” boasts some rather sophisticated high definition cinematography that enables the viewer to catch every bead of sweat and follicle of hair on the actors’ bodies. It’s great to look at, but what’s the point of enduring this vision when the film is monotonously conceived? Except for one over-the-top sex scene, Ceylan favors endlessly static shots where little happens except for slightly increasing sneers and scowls on the actors’ faces (there is no acting, just a lot of dull people making faces). This ennui is not helped by a deep sound recording that goes overboard in capturing every aural experience and magnifying tenfold – even the simple sound of people walking on a snowy street is overdone to the point that the footsteps sound like collapsing buildings. This aural-visual disconnect is truly difficult to tolerate.
Apologists may wish to compare this style of filmmaking to Michelangelo Antonioni, but who really wants to endure “The Turkish L’Avventura”?