Writes Andrew O'Hehir in Salon: What a handful of patient moviegoers may find in “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia,” however, is a subtle, gorgeous and mysterious allegory that may be Ceylan’s masterwork to date. (His only previous films distributed in the United States were “Climates” in 2006 and “Three Monkeys” in 2008, both of them award-winners at Cannes, as was this film.) It’s like an episode of “CSI,” scripted by Anton Chekhov, stretched to two and a half hours, and photographed against the bleak, impressive scenery of Turkey’s central steppes. (The amazing cinematography is by Gökhan Tiryaki, Ceylan’s usual collaborator.) This is a road movie that reaches no clear destination, and a story of an investigation that reaches clumsy and inconclusive results. To enjoy it, you have to travel at Ceylan’s pace, and accept his moments of elusive unexpected revelation as they come. There’s no point pretending that kind of movie is to most people’s taste.
A handsome, mustachioed country doctor named Cemal (Muhammat Uzuner), whose manner suggests an urbane, educated background, goes out into the night with a police commissar (Yilmaz Erdogan) and the local prosecutor (Taner Birsel). While it’s fair to say that Ceylan is always concerned with the conflict within Turkish society between the secular, Europeanized elite and the traditional, Islamic interior, that issue is addressed here only in symbolic, oblique fashion. They’re dragging along a stringy-haired miscreant named Kenan (Firat Tanis), who has already confessed to killing someone in a stupid dispute and promised to lead authorities to the body. But the scraggly wilderness proves baffling, it’s not clear how well Kenan remembers the crime, and the expedition wanders back and forth on remote roadways, devolving into territorial bickering and attempts by the cop and prosecutor to impress Cemal or enlist him as an ally.
The Complete Review Here.