Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

"Very Good"

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia Review


Patiently following a police procedure over about 18 hours, this Turkish drama is startlingly involving, mainly because it quietly deepens our interest through character detail. It's also stunningly well shot and edited.

As the sun begins to set, prosecutor Nusret (Birsel) and policeman Naci (Erdogan) lead a convoy into the countryside looking for a dead body. Guided by the unhelpful suspect Kenan (Tanis), the group moves from place to place, seemingly on a wild goose chase. During this time, Nusret and Naci get to know Dr Cemal (Uzuner), who is along to examine the body. And Naci's driver Arab (Taylan) also adds to the mix of personalities driving in circles through the long, dark night.

For a slow-paced film in which little happens in the first two hours, this is remarkably gripping, mainly because of its earthy humanity. Not only is there a growing sense of intrigue about the murder case, but each character reveals little details about themselves through the largely random dialog, which is packed with often hilarious discussions of anything that comes to mind.

Along the way there's also a stop off for dinner at the home of a local mayor (Kesal), at which we glimpse one of only two women in the entire film. But either of them has any dialog, as we are firmly within a male culture of violence and crime. And it's a little frustrating that the plot never ties up all of the loose ends. Yes, they find the body, which we follow through to the autopsy, but key questions are left unanswered.

Filmmaker Ceylon's point seems to be that life is rarely as neat and tidy as we'd like it to be. Even as our culture has rules to keep everyone in line, the fact is that almost everyone must break them now and then to survive. And this story is packed with people who transgress the law and culture in large and small ways. So while the ending may feel a little unsatisfying, the film has still managed to make us think about things we encounter every day. And Ceylon has also made us see the raw beauty in even the most mundane activities we undertake.



Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Facts and Figures

Run time: 157 mins

In Theaters: Friday 23rd September 2011

Box Office USA: $0.1M

Distributed by: The Cinema Guild

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 66 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: Zeynep Ozbatur

Starring: Muhammet Uzuner as Doktor Cemal, Yılmaz Erdoğan as Komiser Naci, Taner Birsel as Savcı Nusret, Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan as Şöför Arap Ali, Fırat Tanış as Kenan, Ercan Kesal as Muhtar, Cansu Demirci as Mukhtar's Daughter Cemile, Erol Eraslan as Murder Victim Yaşar, Murat Kılıç as Police Officer İzzet, Şafak Karali as Courthouse Clerk Abidin, Emre Şen as Sergeant Önder, Burhan Yıldız as Suspect Ramazan, Nihan Okutucu as Yaşar's wife Gülnaz, Kubilay Tunçer as Autopsy Technician Şakir, Salih Ünal as Hospital Cook Hamit, Aziz İzzet Biçici as Restaurant Owner Kazım, Celal Acaralp as Pharmacist Saim, Mehmet Eren Topçak as Hamam Scrubber, Ufuk Karali as Hospital Attendant Sıtkı, Fevzi Müftüoğlu as 1st Digger Hayrettin, Turgay Kürkçü as 2nd Digger Ethem, Fatih Ereli as Gülnaz's son Adem, Hüseyin Bekeç as 1st Soldier, Mehmet Öztürk as 2nd Soldier

Also starring:

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