"“This measured, pensive movie is a meditative and rewarding experience for the viewer…”"
I must admit, I don’t recall having ever seen a Turkish film before. However, if Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is anything to go by, then there could well be an entire market ready for me to explore.
Set over the course of one night, we follow a team of police investigators, searching for the body of a man that had been recently murdered. With the self-confessed murderer amongst them - the suspect Kenan (Firat Tanis) was of little help to the officers, leading them around various open spaces as they desperately tried to unearth the dead body.
This contemplative feature, by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, proves to be a wonderful study of character, as despite the procedural investigation leading the storyline – it almost becomes simply the backbone to the film, as we delve into the personalities of the group of men working together on the case.
Increasingly interesting figures, we take a personal look into the lives of the Doctor Cemal (Muhammet Uzuner – physically resembling a certain Ben Affleck), the commissioner Naci (Yilmaz Erdogan), and the prosecutor Nusret (Taner Birsel) amongst others.
And to compliment the stories of each character is a stunningly shot feature film – showing off the Turkish landscapes at dawn, adding to the already ornately atmospheric production.
But for me the strongest aspect to the film was its dialogue. There was wit in the conversations between the characters, particularly evident in the car scenes, when the investigation party were travelling between locations. The sharpness and intelligence in the script gave it more of a Hollywood feel, something like a Turkish Tarantino. And, although I’m certain it’s unintentional, the scenes that took place in the car, with the four investigators and the decrepit suspect sitting in the middle, resembled that of Wayne’s World. Although as I said - surely inadvertence.
My one qualm however, was that the film just went on perhaps half an hour too long. It came to what seemed to be a conclusion, and as the night became day it seemed like the perfect time to wrap the feature up – though it continued, and although the film maintained the same level of poignancy and magnitude, it just felt somewhat unnecessary and perhaps would have benefited from concluding sooner.
Appearing at the London Film Festival, this is a film that has already been shown at other festivals this year – picking up the prestigious Grand Prix award at the Cannes film festival, this is a movie also tipped for a possible Oscar nomination, unsurprisingly - as this measured, pensive movie is a meditative and rewarding experience for the viewer – and one that has encouraged me to pay more attention to Turkish films, although I doubt I’ll see too many better than this one anytime soon.