The Wild Pear Tree is not a film you can watch or recommend casually. Like all Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s work, it’s enormously long, serious, and dense with dialogue, requiring over three hours of concentration and reading with very little plot to speak of. Though it is lyrically written and nicely shot, The Wild Pear Tree is indulgent – if you’re already a Ceylan fan, you’ll enjoy it, but it’s hardly going to win any converts.
Sinan (Dogu Demirkol) is a graduate returning to his hometown, trying to get his first novel published. Every scene follows him as he struggles to connect with his shabby dad Idris (Murat Cemcir), avoid said dad’s creditors, and rant at anyone who’ll give him the time of day. For a subject we spend three talky hours with, Sinan is not good company. He’s a pretentious, self-regarding arse, openly sexist and cruel to dogs, who can’t help but embarrass himself in academic or philosophical discussions.
In fact, with the exception of Sinan’s grandparents, not many of the characters are particularly likable. Idris is a gambling-addicted loser and Sinan’s mum Asuman (Bennu Yildirimlar) is, understandably, bitter and, less forgivably, deeply traditionalist. It’s not a fun set of people to be around and, when you’re spending so much time with them, the flowery dialogue only gets you so far. All the best scenes, like a fraught debt-driven confrontation at a bus station or a real writer giving Sinan a dressing down, put direct obstacles in the way of these characters’ blinkered world views, but they’re too infrequent.
As an intellectual exercise, taking in religion and the fundamental truths of literature, The Wild Pear Tree is rigorous and there’s genuine depth to its central examination of fathers and sons, but the audience has to do a whole lot of work to meet it at its level.
CAST: Dogu Demirkol, Murat Cemcir, Bennu Yildirimlar, Hazar Ergüçlü, Serkan Keskin, Tamer Levent
DIRECTOR: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
WRITERS: Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Akin Aksu, Ebru Ceylan
SYNOPSIS: An aspiring writer returns to his native village, where his father’s debts catch up to him.