“Simple” and “real” are the words to describe Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s self-explanatory movie Climates. Premiered at Cannes Film Festival last May, the movie was first shown in US at the New York Film Festival. In his fourth movie, Ceylan preserves his verbal silence, relying on the highly saturated photographic images to narrate the story. A former photographer, Ceylan frequently makes use of contrast in picturing emotions. In Climates, as in his other movie Distant that won the Grand Prix du Jury at Cannes Film Festival in 2003, the main actors are the nature and geography of Turkey. The movie takes us into a journey from south of Turkey, where the sea and the sun portray the beauty of summer, to the north, where as autumn descends the city puts on the grays.

Ever-changing climates are the background of a decaying relationship. Isa, played by Ceylan himself, is an archaelogist struggling with his doctoral thesis. Bahar, played by Ceylan’s wife Ebru, is his girlfriend who is an art director working in the production of a TV series. Bahar is young and beautiful; her head is turned toward the sun. She’s dreaming of flying away and landing peacefully on infinite green grass. Whereas Isa is a middle aged man, already settled as an asistant professor in a university where art and beauty are institutionalized. Bahar savours the day as Isa measures and plans the future. The thrill is gone and Bahar’s dissapointment turns her into a spoiled little child; belittled by Isa. Their vacation ends as they sweat through the last phases of their relationship. Isa returns back to his office in the university to go on with the routine stuff he’s doing, while Bahar moves as far away as possible from him, to Agri, eastern Turkey, to take on a new job. After spending an autumn away from eachother, Isa gets caught up in an “existentialist malaise.” His routine needs to be broken, for the school goes on a winter break. While making plans of a tropical vacation, his collegue asks him the key question that prepares for the climax; “What are you going to do all by yourself ?” Isa, as the modern individual he acts out to be, reassures himself that this is a vacation long planned for; plus he will surely meet someone out there. But he’s no longer the advanterous, young casanova he used to be; he’s old and “fear of loneliness” becomes unmanagable after a certain age. The words of his friend echo in his ears, “You’ll feel lonely, being away from your country, away from your family. I always get the feeling of emptiness, when I’m all alone,” and Isa retreats back to his one and only consolation, Bahar. The images of the Caribbean and Bahamas are shattered as heavy snow of the East falls on Isa. He chooses engagement over a single journey and receives snow that falls like teardrops instead of the shinning sun. His vulnerablity is concealed under a heroic appearance as he flies to Agri to bring Bahar back to his life.

Best known for his male-centered movies, Climates is Ceylan’s first attempt to make a “heterosexual” movie. Although female scent is all over the picture, Bahar, with her passive-aggressive behavior, is not the ideal feminist representation of equality. Waiting like a child to be taken care of, she never starts a conversation; often stares at distant places. When she speaks, her words come out as snake bites. To tame her, Isa with all his pretentious maturity, emerges from winter. He buys her a present; a music box that would put only a child into dream. It’s not love that Isa asks nor gives, but rather companionship. He officially seeks a partner to go on to vacations with. “I’m ready to start a family,” he says “I’m ready to have a child,” for that is the only thing left for this couple to share. The simple storyline and long scenes of pure staring may cause some audience to become numb. However, these are precisely the moments that Ceylan, a director at full command of his art, wants us to fall into. His real-life characters perform best by remaining silent as Bahar and Isa, together and individually give up in their “pursuit of happiness.”