Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep is in fact two films. It is more than fair to judge one of these films as great and the other as a bit boring. The great film, which certainly played a role in Winter Sleep’s success at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, concerns a bitter and at times bloody struggle between a rich landlord and his poor tenants. This story, of course, speaks to our times, and it links the Turkish movie to such global post-crash features as Belgium’s Two Days, One Night, Singapore’s Ilo Ilo, and the Filipino Norte, the End of History.
The boring story concerns the collapse of a marriage between the rich landlord (who is up there in age) and his wife (who is beautiful, sad, and young). In real life, the man who plays the landlord, Haluk Bilginer, is 60, and the woman who plays his young wife, Melisa Sözen, is 29. The landlord is also cultured, once dreamed of becoming a famous actor, and now owns a hotel that attracts tourists from around the world.
The film’s final 40 minutes (it’s more than three hours long) attempts to resolve the story about the class struggle with the one about the loveless marriage, with no success. The great film remains, at the end, a great film—and the boring film remains a boring film. Why? Because class is something that can be shown (cinema), and the bad marriage is something that demands all of this fucking talking (drama).