In the rural area around the Anatolian town of Keskin, the local prosecutor, police commissar, and doctor lead a search for a victim of a murder to whom a suspect named Kenan and his mentally challenged brother confessed. However, the search is proving more difficult than expected as Kenan is fuzzy as to the body's exact location. As the group continues looking, its members can't help but chat among themselves about both trivia and their deepest concerns in an investigation that is proving more trying than any of them expected.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ceylan's films always get criticized for being too slow, and yes, they are slower, sometimes much slower, than what the flickering-advertisement generation is used to today. In Turkey, he is heavily criticized for being "too artsy," inaccessible, and boring. I, on the other hand, marvel at how non-Turkish audiences can actually watch and like his films; it speaks volumes for his brilliant talent in making something so foreign and different a universal piece for everyone to appreciate. The untranslatable colloquial language, the lives of people in remote parts of Turkey with petty worries, a murder investigation that happen in snail pace, the local politics of small, mud-brick villages all become accessible. Combined with his impeccable sense of cinematography and some stellar performances, especially from Yilmaz Erdogan, whom we are more used to seeing in comedic roles, the film shines.
Why a 7/10, then? Well, I have seen all of Ceylan's films. They all execute the story arc well. They do not have Hollywood endings where everything is neatly resolved, of course, but they usually have some progress and movement through the arc. Somehow, this film lacked that. I felt like the main story arc was not fulfilled. I cannot really explain it; perhaps it was that too many things were left untold, or some "hints" were too vague and just when you thought they will lead somewhere, they didn't? Nevertheless, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is another cinematic gem from the Turkish master. Highly recommended for those who do not have to have action packed scenes and formula-bound stories to enjoy a film.
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