Most murder mysteries take you on a journey to find the criminal, this one introduces the murderers within the first few minutes and then sets off to find the victim. The killers, who appear to have murdered their victim in a drunken stupor, can't remember where they've left the body and so a fractious band of men, including the police chief, a doctor, soldiers and local prosecutor, spend all night searching the deserted countryside by the light of their headlamps trying to locate it. The story, such as it is, is only a ruse to spend time with these men - and it's very much about men as barely a female voice is heard throughout the movie. As these men bicker and talk, mostly about banalities, they slowly reveal themselves, all their petty rivalries and hierarchies, their frustrations and occasionally their moral indignation at the events they're immersed in.
On paper, it sounds like the perfect arthouse-snob's movie - it's Turkish, it's over two and a half hours long, nothing really happens, people talk a lot, the central crime isn't really what it's about and it even had the temerity to win at Cannes - but don't let any of that put you off. On screen, it's luminous with moments of jaw-dropping cinematography, much of it shot at dusk when they must have had minutes to catch a shot before the light went, and there are some setups that must have taken forever to get right - just how many apples did they roll down that hill?
Slight spoiler alert! The last line of dialogue comes some minutes before the end and, like much of the movie before it, is somehow banal and profound at the same time. The minutes that follow contain no dialogue but are far from silent - we hear the sounds of childhood and of death, while onscreen we watch a middle-aged man reluctantly cross a one-way divide somewhere between the two. It's certainly not for everybody, but for those with the patience it's one of those slow-burn movies that's still smouldering in your mind days after you see it. Highly recommended.