Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
A group of men set out in search of a dead body in the Anatolian steppes.
There is a scene in this film, a background scene, that completely encapsulated the film for me.
It is a scene of two shopkeepers judiciously sweeping the bits of sidewalk and road immediately in front of their place of business. In between the two sweepers lies a huge mound of sand.
No matter how many times they sweep, within minutes all trace of their work will have disappeared.
It will have made no difference.
They keep sweeping.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan takes a microscopic look at the mundane in the form of a crime. A murder has been committed. A man is dead. All those involved in the business of crime, from the criminal to the prosecutor to the police to…
There is a magical sequence in Once Upon A Time In Anatolia that has a dream like quality and works like some fresh air in a movie filled with linguistic violence, skepticism, despair and hopelessness: in the middle of a dark night a young girl enters the room with a lamp and serves the guests with glasses of tea. The girl’s beauty, innocence and honest look is the only source of hope and faith in this movie, it is the sequence that I will never forget.
This is not an easy movie to watch, it is 150 minutes long and it has a quite slow pace, but the main thing that makes this a difficult experience is its subject matter.…
Not a traditional crime story by any stretch, but this kind of slow-art-film-meets-procedural has its own set of traditions (just one other example in this subgenre would be Police, Adjective). This is a beautifully shot and composed film, though, and it does manage to throw in more than its share of real surprises. There's a sequence involving the elusive corpse that drives the plot that slowly evolves into particularly black comedy, and an autopsy-room-climax that comes as close as you can to Grand Guignol with sound effects and a couple drops of blood.
I'm making this sound like a much simpler movie than it actually is, though - I almost want to watch it again as soon as possible just to untangle all of its mysteries. It's a real masterpiece, definitely one of my favorites of the year so far.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a film I find frustrating not because of its languid pace, but because of its lack of commitment to what seems to be its initial focus. The first hour or so of the film had me entranced in where it was going, and then it lost me when it arrived at a specific point sooner than I had expected, only to slug its way towards the finale and abandoning everything that had made it interesting in the first place.
The film's premise is impressively simple and interesting: Watching a small group of men search the fields of Anatolia for a dead body as they have conversations about their lives and other small topics…
The most irritating thing about Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is that the most interesting stories happen off screen and in the past. The only thing that really happens in the film is that a bunch of lawyers and policemen talk to each other as they search the Turkish countryside for a dead body. The killer can't remember where he dumped him because he was drunk at the time. What seems like a simple story of one night in the life of these men is constantly made more complex as new confounding variables are thrown in until you're left with nothing but a bunch of unrelated interpretations of…
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
C'mon people --with your four+ star ratings of this film. Can any of you honestly say this movie is not one of the most boring ever made?
Despite measured performances and a steady directorial hand, the film suffers badly from a baggy and misjudged third act that tilts the movie towards being uncomfortably long.
Your enjoyment of this film probably depends a lot on your tolerance for very slow-moving 2.5-hour movies; I was tempted to say 'epics', but it isn't one, really. This clearly has a lot of ideas and some great visuals, but takes its time getting to them and I'm not really sure it was worth it. I mean that in the sense that I'm genuinely unsure, and would watch again.
Police, associated officials, and offenders (witnesses?) drive around the Anatolian countryside, looking for a particular field where something happened. Of course, the joke is that all the fields look alike and so this is going to be a long night. Through the night, we gradually learn what's happened - not only to whatever's in the field, but to the characters setting out to find it. Performances are great, revelations are slow and painful, and the scenes once they stop for food are incredible. But, yeah, long and slow.
A night and a day of a murder investigation, the night part of the story was exceptional, masterly shot with beautiful patient long steady cam shots. The cinematography was breathtaking and the dialogue was interesting and harrowing with a well cast group of actors. The day period of the story wasn't as intriguing but still good.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is beautifully shot with gorgeous views of the Turkish countryside. The problem is it's an excruciating slow burn that lacks a payoff worthy of the patience it takes to get there. I read a critic review that called it "A beautiful bore". Another said "It is colossally, memorably and audaciously boring, but if you stick with it - and I am not advising this - something may happen". That pretty much somes up how I felt about. I usually enjoy slow burn police procedurals, but this film nearly sent me to sleep so I could potentially dream about more interesting things.
Trudging through Ceylan's apparent tribute to Sergio Leone's ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968) did not seem as significant nor as captivating as Leone's American Western masterpiece. But, if nothing at all, ANATOLIA was absolutely breathtaking in its painstaking movement and incredibly distant view (quite literally in the numerous long takes and long shots) at the intimate occurrence of murder.
Superb. Wonderful framing, lighting and naturalistic sound; the pacing feels like realtime and yet the film is exquisitely constructed - I felt that a master was at work here. And the acting is of the highest calibre: so subtle that a muscle movement in the face, a twitch, a posture at times portrays a character's devastation.
Tortuously slow and exquisitely lighted and shot.
Soporifically slow (and maybe a tad overlong) this is a meticulous study of character through omission. Omission of background details or supporting story lines. A child is sick and needs pills: why? Whats happening? A crime has been committed: why ? How? These are ancilliary questions/concerns: the director is more interested in focusing on the present moment, which defines the characters. Theres a fair nod to French cinema where characters smoke for hours whilst gazing out of open windows and sighing existentially. That’s not a criticism btw.
Now, theres a murderer being ferried about in a quest by police to uncover a murder victim. This about sums up the plot, as others may have pointed out. What struck me forcefully…