Movie Review: 'Once Upon a Time in Anatolia' -- 3.5 stars
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Starring Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan, Taner Birsel
In Turkish with subtitles
A cinematic meditation set against the Turkish steppes, Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia" shared the Grand Prix at last year's Cannes Film Festival before finally opening at Film Forum this week.
It offers a powerful, thought-provoking experience that probes the deepest secrets and darkest fears of a group of men - including cops, a prosecutor and two accused murderers - as they drive across the countryside late one night in search of a buried body.
Incorporating extended takes and evocative close-ups, the filmmaker delves below the surface details of this investigation to present a diverse collection of individuals grappling with death in different ways.
The personal stories told and the submerged feelings expressed along the route incorporate the full range of human experiences and emotions. The characters offer angry outbursts, express unexpected sympathies, and deliver profound ruminations on mortality that belie the conventions we typically associate with lawmen and murderers.
Ceylan, one of the most acclaimed filmmakers on the international circuit, offers shifts in perspective that express the movie's deep humanist overtones and the conviction that life can't be seen or understood in simple terms of black and white.