“Nuri Bilge Ceylan, maker of the arthouse hit Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, presented another astonishing three-hour chamber epic. Winter Sleep is set amid the rock-hewn houses of picture-postcard Cappadocia, but there’s nothing cosy-scenic about the story and characters. An ageing actor (Haluk Bilginer) has retired to run a hotel. He is also landlord to poor, resentful tenants. When a boy busts his car window with a stone, the fissures spread through his life, his family (wife, sister) and even, existentially, his sense of self.
Long, marvellous, slyly lacerating conversation scenes – Bergman meets Chekhov – unspool in the hotel’s cave-like, lamplit rooms. Unlike Socrates, Ceylan’s hero comes to learn it’s the over-examined life – or the over-planned one like his own – that is not worth living… In the last hour the action breaks free and roams the countryside, seeking catharsis, even a redemptive, epiphanic comedy. As any 200-minute film should, this one grows and grows. By the end it has become a poignant Advent calendar of human hope, fear and battered but embattled optimism.” — Nigel Andrews, Financial Times
“Nuri Bilge Ceylan is at the peak of his powers with Winter Sleep, a richly engrossing and ravishingly beautiful magnum opus… A multifaceted study of human frailty whose moral implications resonate far beyond its remote Turkish setting.” — Justin Chang, Variety