Before Ceylan ascended to God-like status with Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and Winter Sleep (in my opinion at least) he was a filmmaker with a relatively small canvas. Like Uzak before it, Climates is focused on two people who become disconnected. Ceylan himself stars in the film alongside his wife Ebru as the central couple who’s relationship falls apart. It would be easy to assume the film is autobiographical but I won’t be that lazy. This added layer of stunt-casting gives the film an intimacy we wouldn’t have otherwise. Knowing we are watching the filmmaker and his wife play these roles makes it more interesting. The two are convincing and I enjoyed their performances very much. The acting isn’t showy or big with more focus on looking and listening than heavy emoting. They are just blank enough to impart your own conclusions, a register of performance Ceylan seems to encourage from all of his actors. Even though she continued to co-write many of her husband’s subsequent films, I’m saddened that Ebru hasn’t acted in anything since as she is quite enchanting and heartbreaking.
As the film started I began to think I had stumbled upon an influence for Linklater’s Before Midnight. The couple abroad who begin to pick at seams in their relationship and the cerebral discussions are rather Linklater-esque though with much greyer clouds and added cynicism. The meditational tone occasionally gives way to a dagger edge. A raw sex scene, for example, becomes increasingly confusing and uncomfortable the longer we are forced to watch it. It’s not Irreversible by any means but I did like the ambiguity in much of the film’s details. The emphasis on sound in the quieter moments is great too. The sound of a cigarette being lit, or coffee cups on glass feel heightened and central which makes the film’s silences more loaded.
Ceylan never asks us to side with any characters as much as he asks us to observe their flaws. As with all of his films, it is incredibly human at it’s core and throbs with a truthfulness that can be both illuminating and confrontational. I do feel as if I have seen this story tackled many times before and Climates never quite gives way to anything revelatory or fresh but Ceylan’s craft, the actors and his growing confidence as a filmmaker keep it arresting all the same. It might be my least favourite of his films I’ve seen so far but only because I know what came before and after it. He is a great filmmaker and Climates is a worthy addition to his back catalogue.