Movie review: Search for truth moves slowly in ‘Anatolia’
Published: May 3, 2012 05:26PM
Updated: May 3, 2012 05:24PM
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Police Commissar Naci (Yilmaz Erdogan, left) questions Kenan (Firat Tanis, center), a murder suspect while Officer Izzet (Murat Kilic) looks on in a scene from "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia." Courtesy The Cinema Guild

The search for a body becomes a metaphor for truth in this thoughtful, if overly drawn out, drama by Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

On the Turkish steppes of Anatolia, a group of law officers take a suspect (Firat Tanis) on a search for a buried murder victim. It turns out everyone on the trip is searching for something deeper: The suspect seeks to atone for his crime; the volatile police chief (Yilmaz Erdogan) wants someone to be punished; the weary prosecutor (Taner Birsel) is just trying to close a case; and the idealistic town doctor (Muhammet Uzuner), who’s enlisted reluctantly as a coroner, is after the truth — or some form of it.

The film (which won second place, the Grand Prix, at last year’s Cannes Film Festival) employs long, distant takes to capture the people dwarfed by their surroundings and their difficult task. In that empty space, Ceylan lets the characters breathe and explain themselves in quietly moving scenes.

The pace is sometimes grindingly slow, and at more than two-and-a-half hours, Ceylan’s exploration of its characters’ shifting views on the truth can become wearying.

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‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’

Opens today at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; not rated, but probably R for language and violent images; in Turkish with subtitles; 157 minutes.