Monday, February 12, 2007

CLIMATES/IKLIMLER - brutally honest

The healthy humor of the honest tommy. Don't worry my boy, if you should falter, remember that Captain Darling and I are behind you. CLIMATES is the latest film from the Turkish auteur, Nuri Bilge Ceylan (UZAK). It is an uncompromising, unflinching examination of an emotionally abusive relationship. Ceylan plays a middle-aged university lecturer who treats his younger girlfriend with a casual indifference. Bored with her, he suggests a split. He has a brief fling with a more sexually and emotionally confident woman, but is stung by a reference to his ex-girlfriend. He offers himself to her again, with promises of reform. She refuses him but - and this is no spoiler to those who know the fatalistic, bleak nature of Ceylan's work - eventually relents.

From such thin material, Ceylan creates a visceral, painful portrait of a woman who goes back into an unsatisfactory relationship knowingly, and with quiet, tearful resignation. He also creates a character in Isa - the lecturer - that is more than the cliche commitment-phobic middle-aged man. I honestly got the impression that Isa did not see that he was behaving badly. He just did what he did. The older woman sees this and plays along. Despite physical submission we don't feel she is any real danger. By contrast, the younger woman seems to be signing on for life imprisonment.

The strength of the film lies in the uncompromising honesty of every aspect of the production. The performances are quiet and authentic rather than histrionic. The dialogue and orchestral score are spare. The photography is austere, forcing us to concentrate on the internal life of the characters, thanks to static tableaux and intrusive close-ups. But most importantly, in the age of the disposable romantic-comedy or the crass melodrama, Ceylan dares to be brutally honest about the reality of modern relationships.

CLIMATES/IKLIMLER played Cannes, where it won the FIPRESCI prize, and Toronto 2006. It was released in Turkey, the US, Norway and Greece in 2006 and is currently playing in France and the UK. It opens in Austria on March 23rd nd in Italy on May 4th.

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