Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, winner of the 2011 Cannes Grand Jury Prize, charts a murder investigation through the backroads of Turkey’s sleepy steppe. Two brothers are detained as suspects, one of whom has already confessed. The confessor, Kenan (Tanis), leads an increasingly frustrated small-town police force headed by Chief Naci (Erdogan) and accompanied by Clark-Gable lookalike Prosecutor Nusret (Birsel) and mysterious Doctor Cemal (Uzuner), in search of a body he can’t remember burying. Intense, brooding and occasionally sympathetic, Kenan is a gaunt, shadowy presence. His uncertain motives, and questionable culpability, continue to build intrigue over the course of the film.
Patiently-paced, incidents unfold almost as if in real-time, seemingly-idle chatter backdropping bureaucratic procedure to facilitate rich characterisation. Particularly revealing are the exchanges between the Prosecutor and the Doctor, and these individual metanarratives are compelling, slowly establishing themselves as equal plot partners interacting with the central catalyst of the body hunt.
Soundtracked solely by cackling thunder, barking dogs and howling winds, the film, helmed by 2008 Cannes Best Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Three Monkeys), is an atmospheric masterstroke. Complex shades of sunken blue-black night are pierced only by police car headlights, spitting fires and a tear-jerking young lady with candle light as the investigation pitstops through rural Turkey.
The stunning cinematography finally transitions to the morning procedurals, the long night turning to morning like a softening of pastels and greying the outlook of the impressive central cast. Within the safe confines of satisfactory resolution, the film is packed with fertile discussion-points and back-story speculation, with attentive viewing richly rewarded in decoding the motivations of the central characters. Even if you're not usually one for a slow-builder, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is thoroughly exceptional.
Screenings of this film:
|2012/2013 Autumn Term - 19:30 Thursday 11th October 2012|