MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
THE WILD PEAR TREE
Comedy Theatre, August 19, 10.30am
Modern cinematic master Nuri Bilge Ceylan follows his Cannes laureate Winter Sleep with another long, dense, discursive and deeply empathetic examination of the passage of life – in particular, intellectual life – in his native Turkey.
While the middle-aged protagonists of Winter Sleep were in retreat, feeling their heyday rapidly receding, his new film centres on the disappointments of youth.
Aspiring writer Sinan (Aydın Doğu Demirkol) has a dreadfully important experimental novel to get published before he knuckles down to making a living as a teacher; he comes home to try to find a sponsor.
Contemptuous of everybody – his family, the “peasants” in his home village, even the older writer he chases for advice and then dismisses as a sell-out – Sinan in all his arrogance is not an ostensibly endearing figure.
Ceylan’s achievement is to create a complex sympathy with Sinan regardless, through his frustration with his father, a charming gambling addict; his sense of betrayal when he finds his first love succumbing to an arranged marriage; and the hopelessness of his literary ambitions.
“Education is great, but this is Turkey,” a local moneybags dismissively tells Sinan.
To make great art in Turkey is still possible, however; this film is living proof.