★★ / ★★★★
Written, directed and starring Nuri Bildge Ceylan, “Iklimer or “Climates,” was about a couple (Ceylan and his real-life wife Ebru Ceylan) who decided to break up during a holiday because they felt as though they were drifting apart despite the suggested happy years they’ve spent together. The film was divided into three parts: the break-up, the lead character’s wandering as a single man and his reconnection with a former flame (Nazan Kirilmis) and a reunion with the love of his life. This Turkish film was obviously not intended for general audiences because there were many minutes where nothing was said and pretty much the whole film had this languid tone. However, I thought that the tone fitted this picture because it reflected the characters: no one knew what they wanted but they just yearned to move on because dealing with the main problem was too painful. I also thought the silences were just right because it really highlighted the awkward moments in the conversations that eventually led up to disagreements and arguments. However, the major problem I had with this film was it didn’t spend enough time trying to understand the female lead. That very first scene got me hooked because one minute she was happy but when she decided to sit down and really thought about the situation she was in, she wanted to break down. I wanted to know the reasons why she couldn’t handle it anymore and why she stayed in the relationship for so long. Being “in love” was too simple an explanation and there were implications that were never really in love–they simply enjoyed each other’s company, like being around one’s best friend or a very nice roommate. Instead, we saw the story from the man’s perspective, which I thought wasn’t very interesting. (Sorry, guys.) The way he met up with his other lover was particuarly amusing to me, especially that aggressive sex scene. I wasn’t exactly sure if it was supposed to be funny but I laughed and I thought it was a good change of tone considering all the sadness that was happening on screen. What this film needed was more focus regarding that special connection between the former couple. With such a slow-moving film that felt longer than its running time of about a hundred minutes, focusing on the problem at hand could’ve done wonders instead of wearing out the audiences’ patience with silly sidequests. I saw moments of greatness in “Climates” when it came to the inspiring images regarding the various seasons. It’s definitely not for everyone but I somewhat enjoyed the slow burn (in parts) of this Turkish film.
★★ / ★★★★
This second part of the trilogy confused me. It started off with promise because it focuses on the ugly divorce between Julie Delpy and Zbigniew Zamachowski. Even though I thought the story would revolve around Delpy, Zamachowski is interesting because he’s vulnerable but he’s not above not taking revenge for the hateful things that Delpy did to him. After the divorce, Zamachowski ended up back in Poland and began acquiring wealth. He then hatched a plan to answer the questions that have been bothering him and decided to return to Delpy’s life. The first and last part of this picture were effective because it embraced its atypical way of telling the story. One moment it’s a marriage drama but the next it’s a well-told dark comedy. However, the middle portion was too aimless for my liking. I constantly found myself trying to figure out where the story was going or if it was even planning on going anywhere. Zamachowski’s character who has been kicked around like a homeless puppy by a handful of individuals spent too much time feeling sorry for himself. It works in some segments of the film because it makes the audiences root for him, but spending too much time in a depressed state can lead to audiences’ ambivalence. Even as he started to gain wealth and power, he still felt sorry for himself. Whatever happened to a depressed but strong protagonist like from its predecessor (played with such craft by Juliette Binoche)? I also missed the astute use of music and color in order to reveal certain layers of a character. This one barely had any and that frustrated me. If one is looking for an unconventional film that straddles the line between drama and dark comedy, this is the one to see. But if one is looking for something that’s rich in implications and technical ways of revealing certain aspects of characters without using words, avoid this one because it will disappoint.
In Paris (2006)
★★ / ★★★★
There’s a lot of complex dynamics between the characters in this film but most of them were not explored enough. The best scenes were when the two brothers, Romain Duris and Louis Garrel, would talk to each other about women, the value of life and their childhood. I also found the father (Guy Marchand) interesting but he wasn’t given much to do except hover in the background like some sort of annoyance for the two leads. Duris returns home after a bad break-up and stays in bed all day. Garrel tries to find ways to alleviate his brother’s depression by–strangely enough–sleeping with other women. That statement doesn’t make sense but after seeing the entire picture, in a strange way, it does have some hidden meaning. I wouldn’t have gotten it either if Garrel’s character didn’t literally voice it out to his brother in the final scene. Still, this film is very uneven. In the beginning, Garrel talks to the camera and he claims that he’s going to be the narrator. As the film went on, that narration was completely thrown out the window. It would’ve been wiser if Christophe Honoré, the director, was more consistent about the narration because the film got a little confusing at times. One minute we’re looking at something that happened a week ago and the next we’re looking at something that happened a few months ago. The fact that this film is in French (I have no problem with that; I love foreign films) is another issue because there were some dialogues that do not directly correlate with the subtitles. (I know a little bit of French.) Given that handicap, jumping from one moment in time to another makes it that much less accessible. I liked that this film referenced other great filmmakers from the likes Jean-Luc Godard (scenes outside the home) and Bernardo Bertolucci (scenes in the home). Plus, that one scene when Garrel was looking at movie posters of “Last Days” and “A History of Violence” made me laugh due to the fact that Garrel looked at Michael Pitt’s picture with a certain recognition. (They worked together in one of my favorite films “The Dreamers.”) Little tidbits like that made me enjoy this movie despite my frustrations with its techniques. This is definitely not for everyone but if you’re the kind of person that likes to see movies which honor certain signatures of other great filmmakers, check this one out. (I still say it should have been more character-driven…)