Once Upon A Time In Anatolia is a dark brooding murder mystery by Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, director of the award-winning films Distant and Three Monkeys.
Those familiar with Ceylan’s work will know that he has a real gift for exploring human nature in all its complexity while also finding much dark humour in the trivialities of everyday life.
This, his sixth film, focuses on a murder investigation which takes place in the Turkish wilderness of Anatolia as two men who have confessed to a murder are ordered to lead the police, a prosecutor and a doctor to the location of the body.
From the outset we are plunged into the investigation as we follow the convoy of vehicles down long winding roads in search of the shallow grave somewhere on the plains. However, it soon becomes clear that the killers are unable to locate the buried body and as the night drags on the focus shifts between the various characters as they deal with issues, both personal and professional.
Anatolia is no straight-forward murder mystery featuring dramatic plot twists in the style of Hollywood; it is as much a social drama and a meditation on Turkish manhood as it is a crime thriller.
At the heart of the story is a search for truth as we realise these men are all in a dark place figuratively as well as literally, seeking answers to their own troubles, particularly the young doctor Cemal (Muhammet Uzuner) who seems burdened with questions of his own. Despite the grim nature of the story Ceylan’s film is replete with moments of sheer beauty, most notably in the scene where the men, staying at the house of the local mayor, are stunned into silence by the appearance of his striking daughter in the glow from a lamp. She is like a Vermeer painting come to life.
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia certainly takes its time unfolding, but the journey towards its conclusion is rewarding for it soon becomes apparent that Ceylan has been planting clues throughout, leading to a poignant and powerful denouement.
Described by the Observer as a ‘carefully controlled masterpiece’ Once Upon a Time in Anatolia was winner of both the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes 2011and the Dublin Film Critics Award at the Dublin International Film Festival 2012.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia will be screened at the Source Arts Centre, Thurles on Tuesday, December 4th at 8pm. Tickets are priced at E9 (E7 concession and E5 for Film Club members).
For further information please call 0504 90204 or visit thesourceartscentre.ie.