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I watched “Once Upon A Time in Anatolia” quite a while ago, and then did not write anything about it, because I did not know what to write. This happens sometimes with bad movies, where all that comes to mind is on level with the produce that has just been consumed, “crap”, or “brainless” are sometimes the only words can can summarise the experience, and that’s all that is necessary.

“Once Upon A Time in Anatolia” is different, because it is an outstanding film. But given the fact that hardly anything happens in it, and that it is not happening for about two and a half hours, left me a bit lost for words. Of course the best ever “En Attendant Godot” review comes to mind: “Nothing happens. Twice.”, but it has been taken already, plus here in “Anatolia”, “twice” would be inaccurate. What does happen is that a bunch of people try to find the body of a murder victim, but the murderer has been a bit drunk when doing the deed, and is not perfectly sure about which solitary tree on which empty field next to which well he chose to dig a hole under and hide the body. Hence a lengthy road movie through the Anatolian hills commences, interrupted by stops to check whether it’s this tree and this field, to spend a night at a friendly village, or to have a smoke and a pee. That’s about it.

You will realise you cannot access the film after about 10 minutes. Then you are either in or out. If you stay in, the movie meserises you with its long shots of the Anatolian hills, interrupted only by the small lights of the police vehicles trying to find the needle in the haystack. It also mesmerises you with the courage to chose silence as the dominant soundtrack, which is such a pleasant change to the overwhelming noise patterns of modern films that it should be granted all awards for “best soundtrack” just to spite Hans Zimmer and teach him a lesson. The dialogues between the police officers, the doctor, the murder suspect and the village folks are wonderful in their lack of pretentiousness, these are just some mostly nice people stuck together on an involuntary road trip, they are no philosophers, just a bunch of tired men (and occasional pretty girl). Some mysteries unfold over the course of the dialogues, such as the case of the woman who predicted her won death, or the specifics of the murder they are trying to solve, but each sentence has its own right in being just casual conversation, there is no need for drama or spectacle. Still, everybody learns something about themselves, their life’s challenges, their perpectives, their guilt. Nobody learns what to change about it, but that’s maybe just the way life is…

Does that sound as if it is the one film you must see if you only see one film this year? Hard to believe, but that’s exactly what it is.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/once_upon_a_time_in_anatolia/

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