Thursday, 26 January 2012
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia 
Acclaimed Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s latest offering might seem a murder mystery as per its premise, but upon watching it I realized it’s anything but one. Though presented in the garb of a meticulous police procedural, this is, in essence, a meditation on the dichotomies of human nature, a commentary on the socio-political milieu of the Turkish society, and a wonderfully captured odyssey that is as much physical as it is psychological. Based within a span of a day, the movie starts off with a handcuff-bound criminal, who has already confessed to a murder, being taken around by the cops through the Turkish wilderness in order to locate the place where the dead man’s body has been buried. Soon enough we are introduced to the three world-weary principal characters of the storyline whose innermost psyches and carefully wrapped dark impulses have been finely delineated – a police detective (Yilmaz Erdogan), a public prosecutor (Taner Birsel), and a doctor (Muhammet Uzuner). The film is deliberately paced and is extremely verbose in nature; consequently, one might find it to be a challenging watch. However, if one manages to glean through the seemingly irrelevant conversations, one would find this to be a surprisingly perceptive, darkly comic and brilliantly enacted film for the way the director has subtly managed to capture the various layers and mindsets of the characters. Ceylan’s love for breathtaking outdoor shots would be well known to anyone who has seen his earlier movies like Uzak, Climates, etc., and that trend has continued here too, as we are presented with such extremely well-framed compositions that have made it a visual treat.
Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Police Procedural/Road Movie