The film charts the deteriorating relationship between a professional Istanbul couple, İsa and Bahar, played by Ceylan himself and his wife Ebru Ceylan. The age difference being one of many problems in the relationship. Given that Ceylan is considered the father of New Turkish Cinema, the film has many of the defining characteristics of the movement. As a push for self-expression in Turkish filmmaking, New Turkish Cinema is partly defined by full artistic control and the artist’s ability to express themselves through their films without limitations. In all of his films, including, Climates, Ceylan writes, directs, and produces the film. In this film, in particular, he displays his acting chops as the film’s lead.
Ceylan often uses family members in his films. Aside from his wife playing his on-screen wife or girlfriend (The film is vague on the status of their relationship), his on-screen parents in Climates are played by his real parents. This leads me to another common trait in New Turkish Cinema, the use of non-professional actors. Although a handful of professional actors are used, it is pretty evident that many non-professional actors. Many of the film’s actors listed on IMDb have this film as their only credit, others may have a second, usually in another Ceylan film. Fatma Ceylan and Emin Ceylan, although being in their son’s multiple films over the years, still display a certain rawness that is uncommon in seasoned actors.
From the very beginning, the use of silence and long takes is evident through the focus on beautiful scenic shots and moments of reflection for our characters.
An emphasis on natural sound effects like buzzing bees and footsteps. Everyday sounds are amplified, adding to the realism of an everyday experience.
The only music in the film is music from a music box that Isa buys Bahar. A very melancholic version of Beethoven’s Fur Elise plays and momentarily follows İsa out into the snowy streets of a small town.
There is a heavy emphasis on non-verbal communication which adds to the realistic silence. When there is dialog, it is mundane, sometimes brief, and usually cut off by long pauses of silence. The dialog in the film tends to reflects everyday conversations with topics that are not at all relevant to the plot’s progression.
Our two protagonists Bahar (Ebru Ceylan) and Isa (Nuri Bilge Ceylan) are very flawed characters with characteristics that are toxic to their relationship. Even when they are together, they suffer from isolation and identity, which are common tropes in New Turkish Cinema. Their scenes together are often disconnected, melancholic, and/or tense. The few scenes that enlighten any kind of hope for the couple are jarred and cut short by their own flaws and insecurities. Isa’s cheating with his friend’s wife and Bahar’s irrationally juvenile and reckless actions are evidence of an obvious disconnect and unhappiness in the relationship.
The film takes place in three separate locations: the small tourist town of Kaş, Istanbul, and Ağrı – the snowy eastern province of Turkey. After ending the relationship in Kaş, İsa returns to Istanbul, where he attempts to start his life alone (while occasionally and violently continuing a sexual affair with his friend’s wife). After a few months he decides to go to Ağrı where Bahar was temporarily working to get her back. She rejects his pleads for her return, then later changes her mind. After a night together, he changes his mind and leaves her. This storyline is reflective of a generation that suffered with the hopelessness of uncertainty and isolation often portrayed in New Turkish Cinema.