The fourth feature film of acclaimed Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge
CLIMATES is a mood piece that examines the breakdown of
a relationship as it is played out over the course of several months
and far-flung locations.

      As the film opens, college professor Isa (Ceylan) is on a rare
holiday with his companion Bahar (the director's spouse Ebru Ceylan),
a television art director. They have traveled to the sun-drenched
Aegean coast so Isa can photograph various ruins which he can use
both in his classes and for his thesis. From the opening shot, it is
abundantly clear that the couple is in distress. This nearly wordless
section consists of Isa being oblivious to the obvious pain of Bahar,         
who often mournfully stares at him or off into the distance. As a
director, Ceylan uses various camera angles to emphasize the physical
and emotional distance between the couple. Tensions flare at a dinner
party before the relationship completely breaks down after a day at
the beach. The pair engage in a heated argument where neither comes
across as sympathetic. During the fight, the name "Serap" is brought
up and the implication is that Isa has had an affair. When Bahar finally
boards a bus for Istanbul, the audience is more than happy to see the
couple split.

      Back in rainy Istanbul, Isa resumes his academic career and
reunites with Serap (Nazan Kesal), with whom he shares something
of a sado-masochistic relationship. (They engage in rough sex in a
very long take that is difficult to watch.) In the first section, Bahar
has been depicted as whiny and childish and somewhat immature.
By the second section, Isa emerges as an insensitive control freak
with a penchant for domination. When Serap informs him that Bahar
has left to work in the east, he immediately drops her and sets out
to find his former lover.

      The final section is set amid the wintry landscape of eastern
Turkey where Bahar has gone to work on a television production.
Isa uses the excuse that he needs to photograph a nearby temple
as the reason for his trip, but the audience is aware that he is
essentially stalking his ex-girlfriend.

          CLIMATES charts the internal landscapes of the relationship
as well as the external manifestations of feelings. The warmth of the
opening sequences belies the growing chasm between the couple.         
Chilly Istanbul is the setting for what amounts to Isa's "booty call"
to Serap. The final section, set amid a cold and frigid landscape,
reflects the state of the relationship between Bahar and Isa.

      The film made its debut at Cannes, where it was awarded
the 2006 FIPRESCI Prize, and it later was part of the program of
44th New York Film Festival. Ceylan's movie is one filled with
silences and stunning visuals. My basic problem with the movie is
that the main characters are not terribly likable; Isa is a cold
manipulator, while Bahar is too passive. Only Serap emerges as a
potentially interesting figure but she is quickly relegated to the
sidelines. Because of this, the audience really doesn't get caught
up in rooting for the couple to reunite as they might in a more
conventional romance, but that indeed may have been the
filmmaker's intent.

Rating:                B-
MPAA Rating:       NONE
Running time:      97 mins.
©  2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.