Devotees of ‘slow cinema’ who found ‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’ a little too kinetic for their liking will thrill to this emphatically studied product of the Turkish new wave. Actor Muzaffer Özdemir has starred in three films by Nuri Bilge Ceylan – winning Best Actor at Cannes for 2002’s ‘Uzak’ – and his directorial debut suggests he’s very much in thrall to the master, emulating Ceylan’s pictorial sweep and narrative opacity, though with less penetrating results.
The film follows jaded urban architect Dogan (Kanbolat Gorkem Arslan) through the throes of a decidedly sedate mid-life crisis. At the suggestion of his colleague (played by Özdemir himself), he takes a trip to his remote hometown to rest and recharge, but is dismayed to find the rural idyll of his childhood tainted by the impositions of the modern world. Cue much conservative man-versus-nature hand-wringing, as Dogan heads for to the mountains in search of seclusion and salvation. The scenery is suitably magnificent, but this well-meaning film scarcely says enough to fill its 75-minute running time.