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CLIMATES (IKLIMLER)(director/writer: Nuri Bilge Ceylan; cinematographer: Gökhan Tiryaki; editor: Ayhan Ergürsel/Nuri Bilge Ceylan; cast: Ebru Ceylan (Bahar), Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Isa), Nazan Kesal (Serap), Mehmet Eryilmaz (Mehmet), Arif Asci (Arif), Can Ozbatur (Guven); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Zeynep Ozbatur; Zeitgeist Films; 2006-Turkey-in Turkish with English subtitles)
“Sizzles when it explores the fragile nature of relationships and the difficulty of connecting with the opposite sex.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The talented Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan (“Distant”/”The Town”/”Clouds of May”) directs this minimalist, beautifully photographed and sublime melancholy relationship pic that reminds one of a Michelangelo Antonioni drama only it’s more accessible. While being set in its own groove, it’s nevertheless remarkably similar to Antonioni in its lyrical qualities, how the enticing landscape inventively becomes part of the psychological aspects of the story, and that the lead characters are also alienated, lonely and discontented members of the elite searching for happiness. Ceylan is fond of shooting long close-ups that give the viewer plenty of time to observe things and look for whatever there is to see that you probably wouldn’t if it was shot in the usual speedy way most films are shot.

It opens on Kas, an idyllic seacoast resort on the Aegean Sea noted for its ruins and pristine sandy beaches. A self-absorbed, smug, middle-aged university lecturer Isa (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the director), working on finishing his doctoral thesis, and his drop dead gorgeous but sullen TV art director twentysomething live-in girlfriend Bahar (Ebru Ceylan, the director’s real-life wife) are on a summer holiday where he’s busy snapping pictures of the ruins for his class lectures and unaware that she’s seething from discomfort in the sweltering heat. She’s also bored, has bad dreams about him, and is disturbed over his endless nagging. The couple dine with friends they once knew from the city who are living in this serene but intellectually sterile place permanently, and after drinking too much wine they have a go at each other indicating that this relationship is history. The next afternoon at the beach, Isa proposes they separate and continue to see each other as friends back in Istanbul; she agrees they should part, but for good. After settling on this they ride back together to the hotel with him driving the scooter and she impulsively covers his eyes with her hands, which causes an accident where they both get slightly banged up but without major injuries. That evening she splits alone by bus for Istanbul. He spends the fall and winter teaching at the university. In a book shop he runs into the woman he was seeing before Bahar, the sexy Serap (Nazan Kesal). She’s there with her current successful businessman boyfriend, who is also a friend of his. Later that evening, Isa finds Serap alone in her apartment and forces himself upon her as she soon gives up her nervous laughter and resisting of his advances as he takes her with some rough sex while pinning her down on the hardwood floor. His bad qualities include his sadistic tendencies, an emotional divide he maintains in his relationships, a sexist attitude he shows in his casual conversations with a male colleague and a selfish refusal to commit to marriage. When learning that Bahar is working on a television series in Ishakpasha, he uses his winter vacation to trek to that snowy eastern Turkey region in order to see if he can win her back.

Climates sizzles when it explores the fragile nature of relationships and the difficulty of connecting with the opposite sex. Bahar is the dreamer who cries inside and outside and is moody, while Isa is the self-pitying, cloying and superficially charming member of the intelligentsia who never shows he cares a rat’s ass about anyone but himself (as evidenced by his relationships with students, parents, colleagues, friends and girlfriends).

It’s a thought-provoking work that has something universal to say about human relationships that can be compared to climate changes as influences on one’s life and how people always seem to hide something about themselves. This bittersweet take on the human condition might not endear it with a large audience, but its good storytelling and its unflinching realistic qualities should hit home with those who crave films that are so well-observed.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”