The Wild Pear Tree is a meditation on familial bonds, the power of writing as an art form, and the fruitless wandering of confused, bewildered youth.
Cannes darling Nuri Bilge Ceylan returns with this sprawling, magnificent work,
This film is, at times, both mesmerizing and frustrating. It has been chosen as Turkey’s official submission for foreign language film at the 2019 Oscars, and one can see why.
However, clocking in at over three hours, it does test the viewer’s patience. But in sticking with it, I was rewarded in the end.
We become invested in the life of recent college graduate and young writer Sinan (Dogu Demirkol), who returns to his quaint home villages and falls victim to the struggles that have befallen his family for years.
Readying to take his own teaching exam, Sinan sees a lot of himself reflected in his dad, a mild teacher himself with a penchant for gambling away his paychecks.
Idris is neither abusive nor threatening, but he hurts Sinan and the rest of the family all the same with his compulsion to toss money down the drain.
As Sinan tries to settle into his own skin, he finds himself trying to save his mother and sister from drowning in the family patriarch’s debts.
Demirkol is understated and brilliant in the lead role, but best thing about his performance is that you can feel his pain and sorrow on his face, in his body language and in all the little idiosyncrasies.
Murat Cemcir is playful and sympathetic as a father we should hate, but can’t help feeling bad for. The worse he gets, the more we want to help him dig out.
The film is crisp and beautifully shot, and though it’s a 190-minute film, very little of it feels wasted. Father and son are crafted from the director’s own childhood, and the emotion and fragility are poured onto the screen.
It’s a long, arduous journey of a film, but if you can stop and appreciate the beauty in the frame along the way, it’s worth every step forward.