Universal acclaim - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 21
  2. Negative: 1 out of 21
  1. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Mar 16, 2012
    With his two early features, "Distant" (2002) and "Climates" (2006), Ceylan has showed himself a superb film-maker. This is his greatest so far.
  2. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Mar 10, 2012
    The wondrous cinematography is by Gokhan Tiryaki. It is not an easy picture. Not many masterpieces are.
  3. 100
    If the word masterpiece has any use these days, it must apply to the film Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, a mature, philosophically resonant work from Turkey's leading director, 53-year-old Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Climates, Distance, Three Monkeys).
  4. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Jan 4, 2012
    The body means different things for each of them, and Ceylan's mesmerizing existential drama takes its time establishing the players and bringing their inner lives into focus. It's cinema as autopsy.
  5. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Dec 31, 2011
    Nuri Bilge Ceylan's mesmerizing Once Upon a Time in Anatolia plays like "Zodiac" meets "Police, Adjective."
  6. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jan 4, 2012
    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.
  7. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Jan 3, 2012
    A metaphysical road movie about life, death and the limits of knowledge, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia has arrived just in time to cure the adult filmgoer blues.
  8. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    May 17, 2012
    Eerily tragic and chillingly hard to come to terms with.
  9. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Mar 7, 2012
    Nuri Bilge Ceylan, one of Turkey's best directors, has a deep understanding of human nature. He loves his characters and empathizes with them. They deserve better than to be shuttled around in a facile plot. They deserve empathy. So do we all.
  10. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    Jan 5, 2012
    Tectonic pacing builds to a series of imperceptible and yet earth-moving moments in Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, a habeas corpus procedural stretched across two and a half discursive hours.
  11. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Apr 5, 2012
    With its wide-open setting and taciturn, macho characters, it's a film that earns the right to use the "Once Upon a Time" title that Sergio Leone made so perversely famous.
  12. Reviewed by: Tom Dawson
    Mar 16, 2012
    Closer in metaphysical spirit to Kiarostami than to Leone, it lingers thanks to beautifully lit widescreen images of lived-in faces and barren, beautiful landscapes.
  13. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    Mar 12, 2012
    Complex and sophisticated, this genre-defying crime story is spellbinding viewing.
  14. Reviewed by: J. Hoberman
    Jan 3, 2012
    A 157-minute police procedural at once sensuous and cerebral, profane and metaphysical, "empty" and abundant, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is closer to the Antonioni of "L'Avventura," and it elevates the 52-year-old director to a new level of achievement.
  15. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Dec 31, 2011
    Though its glacial pacing will represent a significant hurdle for many viewers, the film grows steadily more involving as dawn breaks and the men make their way back home, and its unflinching observations of the legal and medical establishment at work frequently rivet. Visually, it's as gorgeous a film as Ceylan has made.
  16. Reviewed by: V.A. Musetto
    Jan 5, 2012
    Patient viewers will be rewarded, as long as they pay attention. Lots of what at first seems inconsequential is actually of great import - but Ceylan isn't letting on. And yes, the cinematography is impressive.
  17. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    Dec 31, 2011
    For those willing to take the plunge, it is a deep and haunting work that lingers in the memory.
  18. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jan 5, 2012
    Acclaimed director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's meditative, at times maddening expression of human mystery and barren landscapes is gorgeous to look at, intriguing to think about and, at times, hard to sit through.
  19. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Jan 3, 2012
    There's too much beauty and ballast in the movie's early stages to dismiss Ceylan's cerebral cop drama, and too much genuine banality in its latter acts to justify a sluggish slouch into the shallow end.
  20. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Feb 9, 2012
    Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is boring, but not in the usual way of boring movies. It is colossally, memorably and audaciously boring.
  21. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Dec 31, 2011
    Nuri Bilge Ceylan has to be the least kinetic of working filmmakers - and not simply in the sense of static camerawork or lack of narrative momentum.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 38 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 1 out of 7
  1. Mar 3, 2012
    This movie confirms Ceylan as my favorite contemporary director and yet another award at Cannes (co-winner of the Grand Prix) is justly deserved. As with his previous films "Distant," "Climates," and "Three Monkeys," his first career as a photographer is reflected in each scene. He is a master of creating mood and in this film, his technical skills are on full display. What he does with lighting brings to mind the work of Kubrik who also started out as a photographer. Not a movie for people seeking typical Hollywood fare. Ceylan unfolds the story slowly and the "action" is in the characters, their lives, and their stories. By the the last scene fades, you are immersed in the inside emotional world of the characters. Ceylan is not one to hit you over the head to bring attention to a point but gives you credit for being intelligent enough to discover things on your own. The discovery, contemplation and interpretation of the film experience continues long after the last scene fades. What refuses to fade are the indelible images Ceylan has painted on the celluloid canvas. I highly recommend this film to everyone looking for meaning behind the superficial. Full Review »
  2. Oct 31, 2013
    A beautiful, memorizing film. The cinematography is spectacular! The story unfolds deliberately (some may say slowly, but it never felt that way to me). The mood and the atmosphere created is magnificent. A well constructed story, told in a less than conventional manner with excellent acting. Partake of this movie! Full Review »
  3. Feb 16, 2013
    I first have to say that the film is beautifully shot with some really great imagery showing the bleakness of the landscape and allusions to many of the characters. Even the scenes at night had such great atmosphere; something that doesn’t always come across in film. The only downside was that I had to keep switching to the bottom of the screen to read the subtitles! I found the plot quite unconventional; rather than featuring the procedural investigation; the focus is on the doctor and the prosecutor who stand aside and talk as the search proceeds. This ends up giving an unexpected insight into these two men (I don’t want to say any more spoilers). Even though I found it very long, I also found it quite engrossing and I’m sure if I watched it again at some point I’d find even more to like about it. It does have an extremely slow pace about it, but that’s one of the things I liked; it gives the audience more time to absorb the story and decide for themselves just what it’s about. I enjoyed it very much.

    SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED My score: 8.0/10
    Full Review »