Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Climates” – 2006 New York Film Festival Review

Over the course of his 10-year career, Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan has cultivated an inimitable style that, while superficially resembling such masters of cinematic minimalism as Bresson and Antonioni, feels sui generis in its own right, and results in startlingly intimate films that beautifully capture the nuances of human behavior.

His latest, “Climates,” is no exception. On the surface, the story couldn’t be simpler: Isa, a college professor (played by Ceylan himself), while on a research trip on the Aegean coast, breaks up with his younger girlfriend Bahar (played by Ebru Ceylan, the director’s wife), a TV drama art director. After they go their separate ways, Isa looks up his former lover Serap (Nazan Kesal) back in Istanbul. However, he soon realizes he wants Bahar back, eventually following her to where her TV crew is shooting. This admittedly rather standard, banal scenario and skeletal plot are given unique shadings: stunning cinematography in high-definition video; mordant humor, mostly courtesy of Ceylan’s performance, which never courts audience sympathy; his wife’s portrayal of the sad Bahar, especially the opening scene in which we can see her love for Isa disappearing before our eyes; the astonishing sex scene between Isa and Serap that is simultaneously funny and disturbing, adding a new dimension to his character and a violent streak that we are not quite prepared for.

“Climates” is an intimate drama in which the landscape of the human face has as much prominence as the exterior landscape and the changing seasons – as per the film’s title – that its central couple experiences. Ceylan has created an extraordinarily beautiful work that, in its small scale, reveals worlds of emotion rarely approached by other filmmakers.