A Blanket of Loneliness Covers Istanbul; Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Small Masterpiece “Distant” (by Peter Brunette, March 3, 2004)

I’m now more convinced than ever that a film festival is the worst possible place to see a film. Especially a serious art film. When I first saw Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Uzak” (Distant) at Cannes last year, where it was part of the competition, I didn’t like it at all. Slow, pretentious, inscrutable, a travesty (or even parody) of an art film: that’s what it seemed to me at the time, exhausted as I was by too few hours of sleep, and too many movies and deadlines. What a difference a change of context can make! I now see it as a small masterpiece, the kind of ultra-subtle film that amply rewards the patient and makes the impatient tear their hair and rend their garments. Though it’s actually quite
funny, it will separate the real art-film men and women from the boys and girls.

It goes with saying that little happens, and that the plot is more minimalist than a 30-second TV commercial. Mahmut (Muzaffer