Once Upon a Time in Anatolia


Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Critics Consensus

Cerebral and thrilling, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a meditative procedural that maintains feverish intensity throughout its unhurried runtime.



Total Count: 76


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,118
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Movie Info

In the dead of night, a group of men - including a police commissioner, a prosecutor, a doctor and a murder suspect - drive through the tenebrous Anatolian countryside, the serpentine roads and rolling hills lit only by the headlights of their cars. They are searching for a corpse, the victim of a brutal murder. The suspect, who claims he was drunk, can't remember where he buried the body. As the night draws on, details about the murder emerge and the investigators' own secrets and hypocrisies come to light. In the Anatolian steppes, nothing is what it seems; and when the body is found, the real questions begin. -- (C) Official Site


Muhammet Uzuner
as Doctor Cemal
Yilmaz Erdogan
as Commissar Naci
Taner Birsel
as Prosecutor Nusret
Ahmet Memtaz Taylan
as Driver Arab Ali
Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan
as Driver Arab Ali
Firat Tanis
as Suspect Kenan
Ercan Kesal
as Mukhtar
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Critic Reviews for Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

All Critics (76) | Top Critics (24) | Fresh (70) | Rotten (6)

  • Ceylan's own growing reputation will, I hope, continue to grow. He uses the realistic film as an avenue to what lies around and beyond the realism.

    Jun 19, 2013 | Full Review…
  • It runs 157 minutes, and I can't say you don't feel them. You do - but in the way you would, reading a very good book in an uncomfortable chair.

    May 16, 2012 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • A movie of such dark, smoldering intensity that it's easy to forget that half of it takes place in near darkness.

    May 11, 2012 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • A police procedural as existential inquiry, set in a remote dreamscape of mystery and foreboding.

    Apr 5, 2012 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • This is the best controlled film of this major director - even one of the best films of the past year.

    Mar 16, 2012 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Ceylan displays pure, exhilarating mastery in this film: it is made with such confidence and flair.

    Mar 15, 2012 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

  • Oct 05, 2015
    To enjoy Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, the viewer must enjoy policework, in a sense: reading people, making observations, drawing inferences. It is not a film for the passive viewer that wants to be stimulated, entertained. The work is masterful and deserves the acclaim.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 28, 2013
    <i>Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.</i> <b>Matthew 19:14</b> <i>The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?</i> <b>Jeremiah 17:9</b> These two Bible quotations, in my humble opinion, encapsulate the entire statement of Ceylan's new thought-provoking and mysterious crime story, <i>Once Upon a Time in Anatolia</i>. Leaving the crime plot elements aside, which are just the engine of the story, the answers are left intentionally unclear, but the messages are not. First, appearances are deceiving, and the heart is an intrinsically evil mystery, even to ourselves. Our scope of things is incredibly limited, and in our attempts to rationalize events around us, past or present, we automatically leave emotions out of the equation, and emotions are the ones that normally function as puzzle solvers. Second, the youth of future generations are the ones that pay for the broken dishes of their parents. They have to pay the repercussions of evil deeds that they do not understand, because the troubles of adults invade their world, and that goes against natural order. Ceylan seems to suggest this with Cemile, a young woman whose beautiful and angelical appearance surrounded by light suddenly offers everything that is indispensable for the human body and soul: water, light and repentance. We are located inside this dark room, devoid of electricity and full of grown-up male characters of questionable morality and of unstable temper, until this slowly-walking angel appears with eyes of naïveté offering them what everybody seeks. All have the same defenseless reaction. Even if we are different, the human heart is the same. <i>Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?</i> Mark 4:21 With a visual style that now resembles Kiarostami's free-flowing landscape frames more rather than Ceylan's previous minimalist and realism-oriented scope, here comes another Cannes triumph with enough imagery to leave the heart enchanted, the soul anxious and the mind putting pieces together hopelessly. 97/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Oct 09, 2013
    This beautifully shot Turkish film puts a lot of responsibility on the viewer - it asks you to be patient and to find a point within seeming pointlessness. A simple (and arguably overlong) tale that seems to take place in rural Turkey but actually takes place solely within the psyches of its characters, audiences are asked to forget what they know about film narrative and find out more about human interactions and how people deal with the truth and accept that the truth may never be knowable.
    Sam B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 06, 2013
    I see Wesley Morris' review and I love the sentiment - it is like reading a very good book in an uncomfortable chair. There are lots of interesting things in this film. The problem is that they occur over 157 minutes in a long drawn out process. It certainly tests patience.
    John B Super Reviewer

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