It will test your concentration, resolve and butt cheeks to the limit but Winter Sleep will reward your staying power: a perfectly played, beautiful-looking, exquisitely nuanced picture. Would make a great, if gruelling, decaying-wedlock double bill with "Gone Girl."
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When the film gets outdoors, it soars, and Ceylan continues to dig with acute intelligence into the dark corners of everyday human behaviour.
The final half-hour is a joy to watch, as turning points follow in rapid succession.
While it doesn't always earn its heft, Winter Sleep is both subdued and rich in details, its plot growing slowly over a series of extensive conversations. It's a robust, challenging experience he's been building toward with his previous features, as well as an adventurous step above them.
Staring deep into the darkness of an apparently static character, Nuri Bilge Ceylan again exhibits his gift for making interesting stories out of predetermined plots, locating small eddies of change in the midst of eternally fixed dynamics.
The overwriting of every single discussion smacks less of realistic debate than of a writer/director in the throes of a fit of didacticism who simply never trusts his audience to get his meaning without it being iterated and reiterated to the point of white noise.
With a richness of characterisation usually reserved for hefty novels, each shot in Winter Sleep glows like a symbol, whilst each digression is almost a short story in itself.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan is at the peak of his powers with Winter Sleep, a richly engrossing and ravishingly beautiful magnum opus that surely qualifies as the least boring 196-minute movie ever made.
This is a beautiful, bold, intently serious film.
In fits and starts, this is a stunning picture. At its best, Winter Sleep shows Ceylan to be as psychologically rigorous, in his way, as Ingmar Bergman before him.