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October 16, 2006

Climates, 2006

climates.gifNuri Bilge Ceylan elegantly channels the spirit and self-reflexivity of Atom Egoyan's Calendar and Roberto Rossellini's seminal Voyage in Italy (that in turn, paved the way for Michelangelo Antonioni's psychological landscape films) to create an equally sublime, serenely composed, and understatedly bittersweet chronicle of the dissolution of a relationship through the austerity and desolation of the landscape in his latest film Climates. As the film begins, a middle-aged university instructor and doctoral candidate named Isa (Nuri Bilge Ceylan), en route to a summer holiday in the idyllic Aegean coast with his younger lover, a television art director named Bahar (Ebru Ceylan), deliberatively shoots a series of photographs of ancient ruins for possible use in a class lecture, oblivious to his traveling companion's noticeable discomfort and tedium over his latest distractive side trip (a figurative myopia that would subsequently be manifested in Bahar's reckless, symbolic act of blindness during a motorcycle ride), her sense of profound desolation and estrangement momentarily betrayed by the eruption of tears that also escape the self-absorbed Isa's regard. The metaphoric image of the troubled couple standing amidst architectural ruins serves as an insightful prefiguration of their seemingly inevitable separation, a distance that was made all the more insurmountable by Isa's act of infidelity with his former lover, Serap (Nazan Kesal) during one of Bahar's recent, on location shooting trips away from Istanbul. In hindsight, Isa's unfinished thesis also reveals his self-inflicted pattern of irresolution, emotional cruelty (a sadistic streak that is also revealed through his act of forced intimacy with a resistant Serap) , and inability to commit, an emotional paralysis that has perhaps even sublimated into a physical affliction (through a chronic, stiff neck running gag that recalls the pollution-induced malady of Tsai Ming-liang's The River). Charting the indefinable trajectory of Isa's restlessness, alienation, and melancholy through the climatic and geographic changes that reflect the interiority of Isa's unrequited - and indefinable - longing, Climates exquisitely (and indelibly) maps a spare, elegiac, and achingly intimate meditation on the ephemeral seasons of the human heart.

Posted by acquarello on Oct 16, 2006 | | Filed under 2006, New York Film Festival


I haven't seen Calendar yet, I can see however the skeleton of the Voyage to Italy archetype constructing the whole narration here.
What do you think of Filmbrain's suggestive parallel with Hong Sang-soo? There is something of the modernism of Bargman/Antonioni without the speech-drive, thus a non-intellectualized existentialism, a more visceral (yet mutic) incarnation of individual solitude within the couple.

I like your "symbolic blindness" metaphor too. The mise en scène of each scene seems to illustrate the nature of tension between characters, but without being too cliché (the season metaphor aside). It's always between kitsch and clever and it gives a very familiar atmosphere.

Posted by: HarryTuttle on Oct 16, 2006 9:24 PM | Permalink

Hmm...I see the repeated encounters in Hong as minute convergences though, each time getting a little closer to true intimacy, while in Climates, the encounters are more the repetition out of habit, each time reinforcing how far they've drifted apart.

I agree with you on the non-intellectualized existentialism though, it's essentially going back to a more literary text of Sartre and Camus' novels where it was all about the minutiae and the observation rather than the explication of it.

Posted by: acquarello on Oct 17, 2006 8:36 AM | Permalink

Really liked the 'symbolic blindness' take. Isa's inability to commit - and I thought it was because Bahar finally accepts him, he retracts. He knows she will come back if he pursues. Serap will not. Hence he grovels - he begging Serap to take the peanut thats fallen on the floor...it was him...A bit of perverseness and the inability to love...

Posted by: Arthi V on Oct 02, 2009 7:02 AM | Permalink

Interesting, Arthi. I thought of Serap as the "safe" one, the one who will always be there, and so the humiliation was a way to drive her away.

Posted by: acquarello [TypeKey Profile Page] on Oct 02, 2009 12:19 PM | Permalink

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