The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Once Upon A Time In Anatolia | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Once Upon A Time In Anatolia

Directed by: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Starring: Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan, Taner Birsel

A bunch of grizzled cops spend the night driving through the Turkish countryside, a couple of murder suspects in tow, as they search for the burial site of their victim.
At two and a half hours this will be a challenge for most viewers, it certainly was for this one. A shame as if the final act were shorn this would be a really enjoyable film. The characters are deeply likable and could be the most realistic looking cops ever seen on screen. They all look like men on the verge of heart conditions, walking lumps of sweaty cholesterol. In the opening scene one complains of being served yoghurt instead of kebabs. "Skimmed Yoghurt! You'd be ashamed to write the words!"
Birsel and Uzuner are fantastic as a prosecutor and a doctor. Were this a western movie those characters would be treated suspiciously, but in eastern culture educated people are respected not mistrusted. The working class cops have immense respect for these two and hang on their every word as did I.
There's some great macabre humour on display, particularly a moment where, dictating a crime scene report, Birsel describes the corpse as resembling Clark Gable. The onlooking cops break down laughing and it's a joyous moment that won't fail to raise a smile.
A diversion to a small village sees the local mayor ply them with food while bending the prosecutor's ear with tales of the economic state of his district. His pleas fall on deaf ears as the men are more interested in the food than village politics.
When the movie gets off the road in the final act it loses all momentum unfortunately. With someone to reign him in though, Ceylan could be a director to watch, though perhaps better suited to TV where he can let his stories breath.