Once Upon a Time In Anatolia (15)

Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
FACT Picturehouse
13th April - 19th April 2012

Reviewed By Colin Serjent

Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Uzak, Climates, Three Monkeys) worked as a professional photographer before becoming a film director, and it shows!

Once Upon A Time in Anatolia contains several examples of long duration shots within its 145 minutes, filled with awe inspiring abstract quality, and is art house cinema of the very highest quality, in some ways reminiscent of Russian maestro Andrei Tarkovsky.

A seemingly simple storyline, set in the Asian area of Turkey, in the Anatolian town of Keskin, nevertheless includes complex character studies - the characters depicted are not easily identifiable or easily understood.

Two murder suspects, including the brooding and battered figure of Kenan (Firat Tanis) are acccompanied by several policemen - led by the uptight Naci (Yilmaz Erdogan) - a public prosecutor, a doctor, two gravediggers and a couple of paramilitary soldiers, are looking for the whereabouts of a buried body of a man who was brutally slain. Once found it would wrap up the investigation.

The search causes increasing frustration within the group as they visit several locations in the open countryside without any success.

Despite the generally solemn tone of the film there are moments of dry humour, notably when public prosecutor Nusret (Taner Birsel), in dictating the description of the body, which they finally track down, likens his face to that of Clark Gable, with Nusret himself resembling Gable!

A turning point in the movie occurs when the group visit a local village to rest and partake of food. The presence of the mayor's bewitching young daughter, Cemile (Cansu Demirci), has an effect on most of them, including Kenan, who is very struck by her beauty and the sudden realisation of the life he will soon lose.

As the film unfurls Cemal (Muhammet Uzuner), the local doctor becomes a central figure, particualrly in the closing stages when he is conducting an autopsy on the body - the sound of bones being broken may turn some people's stomachs.

A special mention goes to cinematographer Gokhan Tityaki, who imbues the film with countless gourgeous images, together with the use of poignant natural sounds, including dogs barking the distance and strong winds blowing through trees.

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Comment left by dazza on 1st May, 2012 at 18:08
Great review