Saturday, 12 January 2013

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

This long glacially-paced Turkish film reminded me of Tarkovsky and Reygadas (Stellet Licht). It has no score and only limited dialogue, focusing instead on facial expressions as it tells the ‘story’ of 24 hours in the boring lonely lives of Turkish police officers (and the medical examiner who accompanies them) as they investigate a murder. If this doesn’t sound like your kind of film, it probably isn’t. But I thought it was a wondrous work of cinematic art, if maybe not quite a masterpiece (I want to see it again as soon as possible to judge further).

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, is in some ways an homage to Sergio Leone, as its name suggests, but, unlike Django Unchained, not in its coldblooded violence but in the way it highlights close-ups and expressions and minimizes dialogue. The acting is critical in such a film and the lead actors (Firat Tanis, Muhammet Uzuner, Taner Birsel, Yilmaz Erdogan) do very well, though they are upstaged by the gorgeous cinematography.

The dialogue may be minimal but every word is precious and thoughtful. This sad profound film may yet slip into my top ten films of 2012. It gets a very solid ***+. My mug is up.

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