Seen quite a few films since my post about Blue Ruin; and read two blockbuster books and really moved on with my third novel, Parallel Lines; about halfway through already. I wanted to say something about Winter Sleep, a Turkish film that won the Prix at Cannes in 2014. Three-and-a-half hours.
If you have seen it or read reviews of it you will know that it is in three sections . . . linked of course . . . but the main section in the middle concerns the conflict in a marriage between an older man and his much younger and beautiful wife. Bradshaw in The Guardian gives it four stars and describes it as Chekhovian; he says however that the Director, Ceylan denied he was influenced at all by Checkov. I agree that it is Chekhovian; three principal characters filmed in an enclosed and isolated space in dim candlelight, speaking intensely and unedited about relationships. Not Chekhovian? Well, I suppose Chekhov didn’t realise he was writing a Chekhovian play when he wrote The Seagull.
This is similar ground to my novel, TRAIN THAT CARRIED THE GIRL where the central section is about a young girl who marries a much older man whom comes to resent her beauty and youth. When I was writing it I didn’t think I was writing Chekhovian; I actually thought I was re-writing the story of Miss Lily Bart but later, my tutor said I had been influenced by Chekhov [whom at that time I hadn’t read]. Now I realise that it owes much more to Strindberg.
The New York Times only gives it two-and-a half stars; very mean. The reviewer says it is very minor-key and the coals it rakes over don’t amount to much. Fair point. In TRAIN THAT CARRIED THE GIRL, I at least show how they loved one another once and it wasn’t always the mis-match it seems to be now. Ceylan fails to explain how they got together, what the attraction is or was and therefore why it has gone so wrong. I think that why the NYT dismisses it as concerns of little concern. I liked it though; little bit too heavy on the symbolism for me but some great performances and scene after scene of stressful suffocation. Lovely.