Film & TV

Review – Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

This slow, contemplative Turkish drama cleverly intertwines its subtle plotlines but fails to deliver the immersion or emotional impact desired from a picture that exceeds 150 minutes.

The first chapter comprises solely of a team of local police officers, a prosecutor, and a doctor searching the countryside – which is beautifully shot, as is the rest of the film – for a corpse, with the perpetrator accompanying to point them in the right direction. It then moves to the residence of a local mayor where the group receive food and shelter – perhaps the film’s strongest scenes – before concluding with the doctor character conducting an autopsy in a local town.

The segment that takes place at the mayor’s house is a dream-like, nighttime haze, somewhere between reality and the surreal. It’s ethereal and touch intoxicating, perhaps even poetic – when the mayor’s daughter walks into the room to serve tea to the weary men she seems to encapsulate every one of their problems and desires, without every breathing a word.

While the euphoria of this sequence is invigorating, it’s notably not matched by the rest of the piece, and it’s hard not to feel disappointed that it never again has that strong emotional impact upon you. Some will find it illuminating, poetic and beautiful, others will struggle with the length and declare it tedious. There’s a bit of truth in both of these reactions, but needless to say, Anatolia is not for those with an aversion to slow meditative cinema.

Tom Grater

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Tom is a budding film reviewer, hell bent on providing informed opinions on the latest movie releases to those who need them, whether they like it or not.

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