From Memories of Murder (2003) to Zodiac (2007) and Police, Adjective (2009), the past decade has witnessed many revisionist takes on the police procedural—films in which politics, personal obsession, or personal exhaustion eclipse the underlying question of “Whodunnit?” None, however, have pushed the existential envelope quite as far as Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s majestic Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, in which a caravan of police and medical investigators—and two accused men—spend a long and haunting night searching the Turkish countryside for a corpse buried in a shallow grave. The men making the journey seek closure above elucidation, and a speedy return to the humdrum existence of small-town life, where one day bleeds effortlessly into the next. The central mystery remains mysterious to the end, but along the way Ceylan (Distant, Climates) makes no shortage of acute, disquieting and darkly humorous revelations about the human condition. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
“Ceylan’s most impressive film yet.” —NYFF 49 program note
“A plangent, visually stunning meditation on what it is to be human.” —Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“At once sensuous and cerebral, profane and metaphysical, 'empty' and abundant, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is close to the Antonioni of L'Avventura, and it elevates the 52-year-old director to a new level of achievement.” —J. Hoberman, The Village Voice