2006’s Climates (Iklimler, literally Weather Conditions) is the third film of Turkish director and screenwriter Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s that I’ve seen, and it is the first one in which he has starred in as an actor. Each of the films has gotten better than its predecessor, and, since his previous film, Distant, touched greatness, Climates had its work cut out for it; but it succeeded.
That stated, many critics who compare the film’s style and characterizations to those of the films of Michelangelo Antonioni, at his height, are only seeing superficial resemblances. Yes, both directors used long shots that feature landscapes prominently, and Ceylan’s cinematographer, Gokhan Tiryaki, works wonders with the camera; but Ceylan is interested, to a far greater extent than Antonioni, in the inner human landscapes of the psyche.
Antonioni’s films had protagonists which were never allowed to open up to the viewer. They were all surface, and no depth. And I mean that not in a bad way. Antonioni saw humans as props to explore deeper terrains, that which was transhuman. Ceylan does not. He is interested in the fundamentally human, and in this manner, he far more resembles the work of Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos than Antonioni, although all three filmmakers have a definitive Mediterranean visual sensibility.
The screenplay of this film is one of its strong points, but it is not a classically great screenplay, in the sense that it tells all. The basic tale is this: a college professor named Isa (played by the director) is involved with a much younger female lover, Bahar (Ebru Ceylan, the director’s real life wife).
The film opens with them on vacation, touring some of Turkey’s Greco Era ruins. Isa is also a photographer, and plans to use the photos in his thesis. Bahar is involved in a Turkish television series, and blows with the wind. She is flighty, and reminds me much of the character Flyn, played by Kristin Griffith, in Woody Allen’s 1978 film drama, Interiors. She is vain, selfish, haughty, easily bored, and wrapped up too much into herself. She loathes her lover, and has dreams that he is out to harm her. But Isa’s no prize, either. He is vain, materialistic, lazy, and selfish. While visiting friends on the Aegean coast, they break up. On the way back to Istanbul, Bahar nearly kills them both when she covers Isa’s eyes as they ride his motorcycle. The middle of the film follows Isa through his new bachelorhood, as he rapes, or has rough sex with (it’s not clear), an old flame named Serap (Nazan Kesal), and comes closer to dealing with his own personal flaws.