Three Monkeys

"Good"

Three Monkeys Review


The telling differences between Three Monkeys, the fifth film -- and third released stateside -- by Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and its predecessor, 2006's superb Climates, can be found in a singular, central scene that appears in both films. One of Climates' most haunting moments involves a feral bout of copulation between the film's lead and an ex-flame, a violent and rigorous flailing of limbs and crashing of furniture. Three Monkeys finds the beginnings of a similarly vicious row between an adulterous wife and her husband, fresh off a nine month stint in the big house. But where the round between Climates' lovers endures, suggesting the savagery of their ruinous relationship, the wife and her husband flame out before anything really gets started, the specter of the lady's affair revealing itself in their halted catharsis.

The wife is Hacer (Hatice Aslan) and her husband, Eyüp, is played by the brooding Yavuz Bingol. Eyüp took a year in prison to save the political career of his employer, a politician named Servet (Ercan Kesal), who accidentally ran over a woman when he fell asleep at the wheel on a dark road. As she watches the AK Party and Prime Minister Erdo?an take power on television, Hacer flounders about what to do with her son Ismael (Rifat Sungar), a layabout who gets in trouble with gangs and drinks too much. She finds escape through an affair with Servet, only a few months before her husband is set to return, which her son walks in on one day.

The Istanbul-born Ceylan retains almost all the benchmarks that made him such an instantly-provocative filmmaker when Distant premiered in the U.S. in early 2004: extraordinary, prolonged shots, subtle performances, restrained dialogue, simple yet impeccably-calculated editing. Of the things you first notice about Three Monkeys, the change in the director's aesthetic scheme is the most blatant, his imagery now bathed in sun-drenched yellows and dull oranges rather than the ubiquitous wintery gloom that typified his two previous features. The change is intriguing and entrancing at times, especially considering that the director explores interiors here more than he has before.

What Monkeys lacks is Ceylan's trademark punctuation of unsettling, emotional pangs. It makes the minor eruptions of catharsis feel empty and somewhat expected rather than shattering. Working with Climates lenser Gökhan Tiryaki once again, Ceylan has made a technically-assured, intelligently-acted feature but has added more narrative totems than his understated style can account for. Few of the additional pylons ever seem to matter or pay off, chiefly the ghost of Eyüp and Hacer's other son who intermittently appears for no reason.

This makes it even harder to bear the film's final quarter when Servet casts Hacer away. The arrangement struck between the stoic husband and a local coffee boy in the film's concluding scenes toes to ignite the notion of a world bereft of morals but simply acts as the film's logical conclusion. Thematically unconvincing, the director nonetheless continues to frame action and space beautifully with the morose candor of an elegy. Whether Three Monkeys is a disappointment or not depends largely on how (or whether) you've viewed the filmmaker's work to date. That it is vastly preferable to the majority of films released so far in January is less a matter of opinion than a matter of common sense.

Aka Üç maymun.

We're gonna need some more monkeys.



Three Monkeys

Facts and Figures

Run time: 109 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th October 2008

Distributed by: Zeitgeist Films

Production compaines: Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Zeynofilm, NBC Film, Pyramide Productions, BIM Distribuzione, Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC), Conseil de l'Europe, Imaj Sound Post Production, Imaj

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Fresh: 45 Rotten: 13

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: Zeynep Özbatur

Starring: Yavuz Bingöl as Eyüp, Hatice Aslan as Hacer, Rifat Sungar as Ismail, Ercan Kesal as Servet, Cafer Köse as Bayram, Gürkan Aydin as The Child

Also starring:

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