While on holiday together in the Turkish Mediterranean resort of Kas, Isa and Bahar come to the realisation that their relationship isn’t working and decide to split up. Although the decision is agreed by both of them and comes more as a relief to them than anything else, the separation isn’t exactly on the most amicable of terms. The situation is more favourable, at least momentarily, for Isa (Nuri Bilge Ceylan), a lecturer in architecture who has been working on his thesis for a number of years. On his return to Istanbul, he is able to continue with an affair he has been having with Serap (Nazan Kirilmis), the partner of one of his friends, without technically cheating on Bahar (Ebru Ceylan) any longer. However, the freedom and passion that this arouses in him soon fades, and his thoughts turn again towards Bahar – but she is no longer in Istanbul.
Climates, as the title and the extreme weather conditions in the film suggest, is largely a character study of Isa’s hot and cold attitude towards relationships. He is unsure of what he wants, but utterly selfish in his belief that he can take what he wants when he wants – and usually he gets his way. Bahar presents a challenge however. She refuses to go along with the break-up on the terms he wishes – she refuses to remain friends to go with him to the cinema or out for an occasional meal, changes her phone number and by not returning to Istanbul, she remains unavailable for Isa’s changing whims.
The situation is not a complicated one and the characterisation is not particularly in-depth or revelatory, but there is a sense of authenticity about it and a degree of subtlety and precision by the usual Nuri Bilge Ceylan non-professional acting cast. Keeping it all in the family, the director’s mother and father even make their customary appearance, while the main roles of Isa and Bahar are played by the director himself and his wife Ebru Ceylan. Not content with producing, writing, directing, filming and editing his own films, Ceylan proves that he can also act, and between himself and his wife Ebru, they manage convince, never failing to hold the attention of the viewer.
A lot of the reason for the story and characterisation being so strong and involving, is again through Ceylan’s strong sense of pacing and his impeccable use of locations to draw out other unspoken elements. There are many scenes where the characters barely exchange a word, and even when they do speak, they do not always express their true feelings or motives. Through the use of lighting, props, locations, weather and numerous other little details however, the history and tension between each of the characters is fully understood.
Ultimately however, no matter how well-made and well-performed the film is, it’s all fairly safe, predictable arthouse fare that doesn’t tell us anything particularly new about relationships, about incompatibility between male and female outlooks, about age differences or about selfishness on the part on one or both of the partners. Ceylan has certainly refined his own personal style, moving away from the obvious references of Tarkovsky and Kiarostami that plague his earlier films to find a way of expressing his own concerns in his own way. That style however remains resolutely arthouse, and with the director even casting himself in this film, the personal familial preoccupations would seem to be becoming more and more insular, middle-aged, bourgeois and bland.
Climates is released in the UK by Artificial Eye. The film is presented on a dual-layer disc in PAL format and is encoded for Region 2.
With good tones, strong colours, fine levels of sharpness, detail and clarity, as well as an anamorphic presentation of the film at the correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1, everything would seem to be in place. However, despite being presented on a dual-layer disc, there is a distracting amount of macro-blocking artefacts seen throughout the film, with backgrounds constantly flickering and pulsating, and solid blacks tending to posterise.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is relatively strong with no obvious problems. It is surprising however that there is no surround option on this release.
English subtitles are optional and in a clear white font.
Interview with Nuri Bilge Ceylan (25:51)
The director talks about how the film came to be written for himself and his wife to play after they experimented with a couple of scenes together while on holiday. Not autobiographical, the film nevertheless draws on their own personalities and experiences. Prompted by the interviewer, there is some more in-depth discussion of a number of scenes here, which really shouldn’t be necessary and should be left for the viewer to make their own mind up on.
Interview with Ebru Ceylan (14:08)
Ebru covers some of the same ground about the origin of the film, but talks more about her approach to performing in the film, her understanding of the scenes, how she entered into the necessary emotional state for them, and how she kept that separate from her real-life.
Making Of Climates (32:53)
Similar to the approach to these features on all Ceylan’s films, there is a lot of footage here of rehearsals, shooting and reshooting, the director always showing infinite patience despite the difficulties of working with non-professional actors and in difficult weather conditions.
Trailers are included for Climates (1:38) – short, but very effective – and Clouds of May (1:06).
A very welcome extra that not everyone would have had the opportunity to see, this presents 25 of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s widescreen photographs of locations for Climates that was exhibited at the time of the film’s release. The images are quite stunning.
Strong, solid, safe arthouse relationship drama material would be the best way to sum up Climates. Having already demonstrated a sound foundation in his ability to emulate the cinematic masters of Tarkovsky, Bresson, Antonioni, Kiarostami and Erice in his Kasaba, Clouds of May and Uzak trilogy, Nuri Bilge Ceylan shows what he can do himself in Climates. It’s a masterfully made exploration of a failing relationship that will pass the time pleasantly for its target, middle-aged, arthouse-going audience, but is ultimately rather bland and has no original or unique observations to make.