The Wild Pear Tree (4 stars)

The Wild Pear Tree

Cannes 2018: Elegiac, beautifully shot drama from Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Nuri Bilge Ceylan continues to command attention as a modern-day Chekhov with the meandering, elegiac The Wild Pear Tree. The story of a prodigal son and an errant father unfolds at a lugubrious pace, gently immersing itself in the rhythms of everyday lives scarred by impossible dreams and corrosive anxieties.

Recent college graduate Sinan (Aydın Doğu Demirkol) returns home to his village near the port city of Çanakkale. The first voice he hears is that of a man reminding him that Sinan's father owes him money. It is hardly a glorious homecoming. Sinan later confesses that if he had the powers of a dictator he would drop a bomb on the place. The family seem equally unimpressed by him.

Sinan is uncertain what his future holds. His one desire is to publish a book of fictionalised autobiographical writings. Sinan's return brings him back into contact with Hatice (Hazar Ergüçlü), the woman he once loved and who might be about to marry another. He is also pulled back into the orbit of his father Idris (Murat Cemcir), a debt-ridden gambler convinced that there is water on the small plot of land that he owns.

Beautifully filmed in the golden glow of warm sunshine, The Wild Pear Tree is crammed with haunting images, including the huge statue of a Trojan horse left behind after the Brad Pitt film Troy. It is also impeccably acted, with Cemcir turning stingy, practical joker Idris into a charmer you could learn to avoid. Over the course of more than three hours, Sinan's encounters and musings reflect an existential angst. His greatest fear is to wind up exactly like his father, his yearning is for an escape and assertion of individuality that may never be achieved. It is a plaintive tale, as sweet and bitter as the wild pear.

Screened as part of the Cannes Film Festival 2018. General release TBC.

The Wild Pear Tree

  • 4 stars
  • 2018
  • Turkey / Republic of Macedonia / France / Germany / Bosnia and Herzgovina / Bulgaria / Sweden
  • Directed by: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
  • Cast: Dogu Demirkol, Murat Cemcir, Hazar Ergüçlü

A young college graduate comes back to his home village to see his errant father and the woman he once loved.