Alongside The Tree of Life, Ceylan's Grand Prix-winner was widely regarded as the most rewardingly audacious film in Cannes this year. Its lithe if meticulously constructed story, starting at dusk and ending around the middle of the next day, follows the search by police, prosecutors, a doctor and the alleged culprit for the body of a man buried in the Anatolian steppes (but where exactly?) after a brawl. From this slow yet wholly engrossing account of a rambling, shambling investigation that steadily shifts focus from a group of mostly garrulous characters to the aforementioned doctor, Ceylan fashions a richly quizzical meditation on a range of interwoven themes: the concerns and manners of provincial life; our relationship with the places we inhabit; the balancing of ethics and pragmatism; our need to hold on to the banalities of life when faced with misfortune, absurdity and death. And more; even by his own remarkable standards, this is hugely impressive. The piercing insights and dry wit, the feel for the subtle rhythms of human interaction, the beautiful, superbly expressive Scope images confirm Ceylan's status as a master of cinema.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Running time 157 min
Directed by: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Writer: Ercan Kesal, Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Cast: Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan, Taner Birsel, Firat Tanis
Distributor: New Wave Films