Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 21 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 38 Ratings

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  • Summary: Life in a small town is akin to journeying in the middle of the steppes: the sense that "something new and different" will spring up behind every hill, but always unerringly similar, tapering, vanishing or lingering monotonous roads. (NBC Film)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 21
  2. Negative: 1 out of 21
  1. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Mar 16, 2012
    100
    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. 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).
  3. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Dec 31, 2011
    91
    Nuri Bilge Ceylan's mesmerizing Once Upon a Time in Anatolia plays like "Zodiac" meets "Police, Adjective."
  4. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Apr 5, 2012
    83
    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.
  5. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    Mar 12, 2012
    80
    Complex and sophisticated, this genre-defying crime story is spellbinding viewing.
  6. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Dec 31, 2011
    80
    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.
  7. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Dec 31, 2011
    38
    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.

See all 21 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 1 out of 7
  1. Mar 3, 2012
    10
    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. Expand
  2. Oct 31, 2013
    9
    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! Expand
  3. May 22, 2012
    8
    For those that can sit through a 157 minute film of slow pace they will be greatly rewarded with impressive cinematography across some stunning landscapes, superb actors, and a profound, understated script. A subtle allegory from an accomplished filmmaker well worthy of his Cannes award for Best Director. Expand
  4. Jan 13, 2012
    8
    Most of the movie is very weird, many absurd moments, especially the various topics with are discussed by the people throughout the film. The main story itself is quite simple. Expand
  5. Dec 1, 2012
    8
    A beautiful, atmospheric film. I was not surprised to find out that this director started as a photographer. This film is gorgeous and his framed shots are absolutely amazing. This is the epitome of a character driven film, so if you need your loose ends tied up neatly, flashy action, or an over obvious script, stay away. This film centers around three main characters who all have different responsibilities in a murder investigation. That investigation remains secondary however and the intrigue comes from the three main characters and the revelations they make about themselves as they interact with each other over the course of less than 24 hours. Each one has an interesting story arc and are as unique as they are different. So why did I give this movie an 8 instead of a 10. In the end the movie is just a little bit too ambiguous for me. I don't fault the film and am not even sure how I would change it. However for me to give a movie a perfect score, it needs to resonate perfectly with me on every level. While this film was close it fell just short of hooking me emotionally the way I needed it to. Expand
  6. Feb 16, 2013
    8
    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
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  7. Sep 2, 2012
    0
    quite possibly the dullest and most boring waste of time. the first 10 minutes of the movie is the exact same as every minute that comes after, senseless and dispassionate. undeserving of any consideration and evidence that critics are morons. Expand