The love in Climates, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, brings to my mind a sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay about fickle love. Some would argue such inconsistency is related to age and lack of maturity, others would blame it on human nature. Either way, it speaks the truth, for love is always about murdering one and letting the other live with the consequences. It does not have to be a violent kind of slaying, the one that makes the headlines, it can be bloodless, yet meaningful. All timeless stories in literature and movies alike, are about the one who leaves and the one who stays, the one who dies and the one who survives.
Isa and Bahar, played beautifully by director and real life partner, are a university professor and an artistic director caught up in a relationship. We do not get many details on either his field of expertise or the official status of their relationship because it makes no difference. An older man, a younger woman, their love story unraveled across a sunny summer, a rainy autumn and a harsh winter. Bahar, the woman's name, means spring in Turkish, one season their relationship is never meant to relive. Summer is the beginning of the end, when being on holiday, they spend time together, yet their inner feelings and thoughts belong to themselves alone. Their story is done without yelling or violence, without much explanation, reasoning or conflict, as it simply untangles in a poignant, impenetrable, intimate flow.
The movie is made up of small, beautiful cinematic elements like a minute music box, a Domenico Scarlatti sonata, a wet, unanswered 'I love you', a pair of hopeless hands over the other's eyes, a nervous laughter, a nut on the floor, a pair of exciting pointed shoes and long, mute shots at faces, places and feelings. You get to watch the story, choking on words or sensations, almost feeling the unfiltered light or the sweltering heat on the skin, the crippled rain or the suffocating white blizzard. It is a quiet cocktail of Bergman, Antonioni and Dogme 95 techniques that unsettles the viewer with its snail-like flowing. The story gets punctured every now and then by extreme gestures like Bahar's getting them to fall off the bike or Isa's powerful, shocking possession of his ex-lover. After all, seasons may flow like beads on a string, yet no one can deny their unpredictable shapes and drastic outbursts.
And whether you read or not Millay's sonnet, Climates unfolds like some visual poem, charting the unfailing succession of seasons, the way the world keeps ticking away, regardless of broken hearts and little people. Isa and Bahar lie, suffer, get hurt, harm, cry, love, hate and it is all painted in naturalistic colors, drawing an accurate skeleton of a relationship with its own mysteries.