The Wild Pear Tree
With captivating dialogues and spectacular message, this film falls short of becoming a masterpiece due to non-characteristic to Nuri Bilge Ceylan editing, cinematography and casting choices.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan takes us on another journey to remote Anatolia, where “an enlightened man” is trapped – both physically (being cut off from the bigger world) and in his thoughts. Undoubtedly, he will find his way out, but what will he discover about himself and the others in the process? A Nuri Bilge Ceylan (brand-named as “NBC”) classic, will “The Wild Pear Tree” live up to be a classic in the history of moviemaking? I am not sure.
It is a story of a young man, who grew up in Can village in Canakkale, Western Anatolia. He returns to his hometown after graduating from a university in Canakkale city as a teacher. But he is not particularly happy about returning, as he doesn’t like his hometown or its people. Also, he will most probably be appointed to a teaching position at remote Eastern Anatolia, as well as he has to attend compulsory military service. His family is not doing very well. They have a land parcel in the outskirts of Can, where his father spends most of his free time.
But there is another side to this young man. He is an aspiring writer and has written his first book. He is desperately looking for a sponsor to publish this book, asking for not a very large sum, but gets rejection on every occasion. The plotline revolves around his relationships with his father (in the context of his father’s reputation as a gambler), rebellion to authority and bending one’s own principles when the worldly desires demand it.
Very much in the NBC-style, the plotline of “The Wild Pear Tree” aims at setting up the psychological scene for the resolution of the hero’s internal conflict. He does it in a superb manner, although it takes more than 2.5 hours of screen time to achieve it. That sends some people to sleep, but keeps most viewers on their toes for the entire time. I prefer books to movies, because books can explore and reflect characters deeper. NBC’s plotlines are the closest point that ‘a movie’ gets to ‘a book’. That’s what makes him stand out.
Another signature that NBC put in his movies used to be amazing cinematography. He likes longs shots, too – to much so that, his earlier movies (like “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia“) at times did resemble a collage of stunning photos with audio captions. “Winter Sleep” (2014) was the ultimate meeting point of his cinematography and scriptwriting – beautiful scenes within an indulgent storyline. “Wild Pear Tree” did not live up to the NBC-level cinematography, which was mostly due to the editing. The editors also did not appreciate the still shots that accompanied lengthy conversations that we are used to see in the NBC movies. The jump cuts between the conversing characters or with the environment would have, maybe, not stood out in any other movie. However, for an NBC movie it felt quite quirky.
And one more negative point for the movie comes from the choice of actors. Particularly, the main character (Sinan) and his father (Idris) did not fit their roles well. Their acting was on the highest level and I cannot say anything about that. However, the personalities did not seem to fit the characters. Comedian Dogu Demirkol plays Sinan, who was trying to be as casual as he could, to hide his professional traits. However, occasional sarcastic grins did slip through. As for Idris (Murat Cemcir), his strong voice, sharp gaze and more theatrical manner of acting curtained the true nature of the Idris character.
I thoroughly enjoyed yet another piece by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. A Cannes-regular (and winner) and never been nominated for the Oscars, he certainly knows how to leave lasting impressions. His dialogues in “The Wild Pear Tree” are deep and views are protrusive. However, this time his masterpiece was partially spoiled by sub-NBC-standard casting, editing and cinematography.