Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a beautifully photographed crime drama about police and prosecutors grimly locating a buried body through one long night in the Anatolian steppes. As the corpse is exhumed, many long-buried thoughts and fears are disinterred in the minds of the hard-bitten lawmen. 4.3 out of 5 based on 16 reviews
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Omniscore:

Certificate 15
Genre Thriller, Drama
Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Cast Yilmaz Erdogan, Taner Birsel Muhammet Uzuner
Studio New Wave Films
Release Date March 2012
Running Time 150 mins
 

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a beautifully photographed crime drama about police and prosecutors grimly locating a buried body through one long night in the Anatolian steppes. As the corpse is exhumed, many long-buried thoughts and fears are disinterred in the minds of the hard-bitten lawmen.

Reviews

The Financial Times

Nigel Andrews

At Cannes, where the film won the runner-up Grand Jury Prize, it was called “Chekhovian”. We know what that means. Nothing happens, everyone talks. Character is laid open by time and tragicomic serendipity. If you’re in a hurry, don’t go near this film. If you’re not in a hurry, don’t go anywhere else. It could change your life.

15/03/2012

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The Guardian

Peter Bradshaw

I can only say it is a kind of masterpiece: audacious, uncompromising and possessed of a mysterious grandeur in its wintry pessimism.

15/03/2012

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The Independent

Anthony Quinn

Ceylan's storytelling is so enigmatic you can't be sure you've "got" it even when you have: much of its meaning is locked within the silences and dark-eyed gazes of these middle-aged men. Its length seems immaterial. It could go on for another two-and-a-half hours and you'd still be sitting there, mesmerised.

16/03/2012

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Time Out

Dave Calhoun

It’s Ceylan’s most epic and talky film yet. But don’t be fooled – it’s also his most mysterious and meditative ... the film itself feels like a painful, fruitless inquiry as it seeks themes, subjects and characters to latch on to. It’s a police procedural, yes, but you imagine that’s just an excuse to bring together a varied group of men in the face of a terrible event. It’s very far indeed from a traditional whodunnit. However, the murder allows both Ceylan and us time to stop and consider what life means in the face of it being snatched away.

13/03/2012

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The Observer

Philip French

The visit to the countryside is beautifully lit by Ceylan's regular cameraman, Gökhan Tiryaki, and has a resonant soundtrack of natural noise ranging from wind in the trees to overweight coppers in creaking car seats ... But daylight brings not an expected clarity but further obfuscation. The case appears to have greater complexities than we'd supposed and we realise we've been watching a thriller as challenging as Antonioni's Blow-Up and Haneke's Hidden.

18/03/2012

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The Independent on Sunday

Nicholas Barber

It's true that Once Upon a Time in Anatolia doesn't have any car chases, love scenes or anything you could call a dramatic climax, but Nuri Bilge Ceylan's rural crime drama is so engrossing, and proceeds with such a powerful sense of purpose, that there isn't a shot or a line in it that you wouldn't want to be there.

18/03/2012

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Screen

Dan Fainaru

Ceylan is never in a rush, revealing the information in an oblique fashion which requires the viewer not only to not blink, but also to interpret everything he is told and put it in the right context. Patience is amply repaid by the end, when all those details come together, and one realises there is much they have learned in the course of the film about all these predictable, unspectacular individuals who end up by being both touching and affecting. The outcome is fascinating, not only on a personal level, but also as a profoundly perceptive portrait of the Turkish multi-leveled culture and society.

21/05/2011

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The Daily Telegraph

Tim Robey

Somewhere between arduous and mesmerising, [Ceylan's] movie intrigues almost more in retrospect than it does when you’re watching it, as enigmas and emotions around the case are teased out, and the oblique power of a remarkable ending sneaks up and stuns you.

15/03/2012

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The Times

Wendy Ide

The exchange of biscuits becomes a subtle power-play; a surreptitious toilet break takes on a disquietingly surreal tone; the tea served by a lovely girl is a transcendent and spiritual moment. For all these little moments of inspiration, however, we must wade through long minutes of rain lashing windscreens and headlights illuminating unremarkable bushes.

16/03/2012

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Total Film

Tom Dawson

A hypnotic meditation on life, death and the mysteries of the universe.

05/03/2012

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The Sunday Times

Jonathan Dean

A bit like the first 20 minutes of No Country for Old Men stretched to more than two hours, Ceylan’s leisurely script allows characters to develop subtly, until you realise that, somehow, their worries and woes have crept under your skin. This is a masterclass in patient film-making that deserves to be seen on the big screen.

18/03/2012

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Empire Magazine

David Parkinson

Complex and sophisticated, this genre-defying crime story is spellbinding viewing.

12/03/2012

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The Evening Standard

Derek Malcolm

We never really find out whodunnit or why, but we discover a lot about each of the characters as what at first seems a simple story progresses.

16/03/2012

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The New York Times

Manohla Dargis

There’s a murder at the story’s center, but as one after another face fills the frame, a tear violently trembling in one man’s eye while the memory of a dead wife hovers in another man’s look, it becomes evident that the greater mystery here is of existence itself.

03/01/2012

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The New Statesman

Ryan Gilbey

It's a handsome film ... There is a practical explanation for the search taking place at night (Nesret is leaving town early the next day) but we know the real reason is because it's so visually dramatic: the experiments with light and shadow create strange new contours in the ancient landscape. Ceylan, who is also an accomplished photographer, organises the frame with his cinematographer, Gökhan Tiryaki, in such a way that our eyes roam over each image just as they would if we stood before an old master.

15/03/2012

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The Scotsman

Alistair Harkness

We’re privy to banal conversations about their lives, idle chitchat and glib jokes as the men grapple with the grim reality confronting them. Ceylan doesn’t offer much in the way of resolution, but his oblique approach does cumulatively imply much about ripple effect the crime has on all those who come into contact with it.

15/03/2012

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