Twitter is doublestuffed with check-your-privilege messages for entitled men, but I've rarely seen one as potent as this singular line from Nuri Bilge Ceylan's out-of-time masterwork Winter Sleep, a Chekhovian drama of marriage and class and the way both can inspire insulated cluelessness. "Just once, I'd like you to defend something that might cost you, and have feelings that don't benefit yourself," says a miserable young wife (Melisa Sözen) to the wealthy older husband who has given her a life free of all wants — except those of the soul.
The wife has devoted herself to charity, to the improvement of education in a nearby village on the Turkish steppe; the husband, a rare soft-spoken blowhard, has recently horned in on her fundraising, eager to show her how to do the books correctly.
That husband, meanwhile, is something of a pompous lord. He pens dreary columns for a local newspaper, attempting to lift the population to his moral level. He runs a gorgeous hotel hacked out of stone formations, and he's a landlord who worries his tenants think he's going soft, even though we learn, not too far into the film's (justified) 196-minute running time, that the collection men in his employ recently beat a debtor tenant.
This patient, beautiful, painful, engrossing film pits husband and wife against each other and their world in a series of extended conversations/confrontations. We're slumped with them in firelit interiors, a chill in our bones, just like theirs, as in long, static takes they talk, mostly without heat, about everything that matters most. For all their silences, these scenes are of the highest drama.