I cannot believe Winter Sleep is not a failed movie project. It lacks flow and its characters seem to be more confused about what is going on than I was. With a 196 minute run time, there was just not enough in it, to captivate and engage the viewer.
In fact, as I was watching this film on DVD, I was tempted to hit fast forward through a lot of the long- winded dialogue which dominates the second half of the movie.
Aydin is a former actor who owns a hotel in the mountains of Cappadocia. Living with him is his divorced sister Necla and his much younger wife Nihal. A passage of events unfolds one day that is precipitated by a rock hitting a car. Ayadin’s assistant, Hiyadet, chases down the boy who threw the rock and takes him home. There we discover that the boy’s father is behind on payments for the house, which the former actor owns. His eager-to-please brother, Hamdi, an imam, stops a fight from breaking out between his brother and Hiyadet.
Too busy to worry about all his assets, Aydin spends most of his time writing, while his sister challenges him on issues. One discussion about apologising to make someone feel guilty carries on for days.
Nihal is a submissive, meek woman. We gradually come to understand why this is, in the second half of the movie. After she organises a fundraising meeting to raise money for local schools, she asks Aydin to leave. He couldn’t even remember her mentioning it, such was his lack of interest.
Then the long, overdone monologues begin. Throw in a bit of travel, as well as some husband and wife friction, along with unappreciated generosity, and you get the second half of Winter Sleep. The problem is not the talking itself but the characters; the scriptwriter did not craft the characters sufficiently. I just didn’t feel any sense of connection with Aydin’s contrarian personality, or Nihal’s broken soul.
The film makes an attempt to explore the gulf between the rich and the poor. Clearly Aydin has a lot of control over the area while a lot of local townspeople struggle to get by. Sadly, like so much else in the film, it stretched on for far too long. It was a hot and humid Auckland Summer’s day when I watched this film, but it was a struggle not to fall into a very deep winter sleep.