Once Upon A Time In Anatolia
Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Despite its glacial pace and lack of character development, Once Upon A Time In Anatolia is still an engrossing drama with excellent visuals.
Let me first start by saying that the cinematography is absolutely stunning. With minimal camera movement and a great eye for detail, meticulous scrutiny was put into every frame, and the visual pay-off is tremendous. The intent of the camera doesn't lie solely on the characters. During one scene in particular, you can hear dialogue in the background as the camera slowly follows an apple as it rolls down a hill and into a stream. It's as if the camera is telling its own version of the story, one where the characters are almost incidental.
The acting is very low-key. No particular performance stands out above the rest, as the dialogue doesn't allow for any of the actors to showcase their abilities. For all the dialogue they deliver, very little of what the characters say is at all meaningful, and is of equivalent interest to overhearing the conversation of a group of strangers -- there may be a few topics of interest, but largely uninteresting and means very little to you on a personal level. Key dramatic points in the story have far less impact than they should (or at least could) have. The script quite simply lacks bite.
Much of the dialogue serves little purpose whatsoever, used more as a means to pass the time to avoid completely boring the audience, where the majority of the film's emotional resonance is captured in its silent moments, which are plentiful. Relatively little time is spent on the characters outside of these scenes of superfluous dialogue. The story isn't even as much the focus as is the method in which the story is told, which is deliberate and slow -- often too slow.A t roughly 150 minutes, there quite simply isn't enough going on to justify the film's running time. As appealing a movie as it was to look at, 40 minutes or more could have been cut out and it would have still felt slow-paced.
Regardless of its flaws, I was instantly captivated by the camerawork and its dark, moody atmosphere. Though regrettably impersonal, the story is still plenty interesting, and watching as it progresses is well worth your time, even if just for the opportunity to soak in the terrific visuals. I can't see myself watching it again any time soon, but it was well worth the experience.