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Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (4 stars)

Winner of Grand Jury Prize at Cannes is playful, elegant, frustrating and beautiful

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Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

What extraordinary eyes and ears has the Turkish photographer and director Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Eyes that (via cinematographer Gökhan Tiryaki) transform the most workaday vistas into lustrous dreamscapes; ears that find the hidden absurdities and profundities in everyday exchanges. This – Ceylan’s sixth feature film and the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes – is a humane, beguiling and idiosyncratic shaggy dog story that circles its main narrative rather than addressing it directly; as policemen, a doctor and a murder suspect search for a buried body in the Turkish countryside, the facts emerge piecemeal, as do details about the lives, values and relationships of the men we’re watching.

Like Cristi Puiu’s The Death of Mr Lazarescu, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia emphasises the multiplicity of stories that cling around any one event; like Fargo, it plays up the incessant bubbling of life and personality even as death lurks nearby, and the absurdities that attend the solemnest events. Playful, elegant, frustrating and beautiful, this film has the moral and imaginative scope of a great novel; it demands and rewards complete absorption.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia Trailer

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

  • 4 stars
  • 2011
  • 157 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
  • Written by: Ercan Kesal, Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan
  • Cast: Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan,Taner Birsel

A humane, beguiling and idiosyncratic shaggy dog story about a policeman, a doctor and a murder suspect searching for a body buried in the Turkish countryside. Like Fargo, it plays up the incessant bubbling of life and personality even as death lurks nearby, demanding and rewarding complete absorption.

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