Three Monkeys (Turkey/France/Italy; 109 min.)

directed by: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
starring:Yavuz Bingol; Hatice Aslan; Rifat Sungar; Ercan Kesel; Cafer Köse
Üç maymun

Bruce says: "THREE MONKEYS, a classic tragedy, has everything – hit and run, unrequited love, contemplated suicide, murder, infidelity, brutal beatings, bogus confessions, false pride and manic desperation.  Runny noses, sweaty brows, tear stained cheeks, blood and vomit also figure prominently in this gritty drama.  All considered it comes as quite a surprise that this is one of the slowest moving films in recent memory, on a level with THE BANISHMENT, THE MAN FROM LONDON and THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU

"The film opens with Servet (Ercan Kesel) driving on a country road in the middle of the night.  When he hits a man and kills him he is overcome with fear.  Another car approaches and voices are heard, 'We must call the police.  Get the license plate of the car.'  Servet climbs into his car and speeds off.  Next we see him with Eyüp (Yavuz Bingol), his chauffeur who is agreeing to take the rap for his politician boss, an act for which he will be paid handsomely.  Eyüp ‘s son Ismail is lazy and flunks his exams.  He pleads with Hacer (Hatice Aslan) to talk to Servet and get an advance on the money Eyüp has been promised when he gets out of prison at year end, money he will use to buy a car and start his own business.  She refuses.  Things change.  Ismail gets brutally beaten by some of the guys with whom he has been hanging out.  Soon Hacer is knocking on Servet’s door.  Servet listens to Hacer’s plea but, not being the sort of man who does a good turn for nothing, demands favors in return.  What no one bargains for is that Hacer might fall in love.  Keeping her affair secret from her son is problematic enough but what will happen when her husband gets out of prison?  Once again, someone gets killed.  Who will pay for the crime this time around?

"Nuri Bilge Ceylan (DISTANT, CLIMATES) likes his films to take the viewer by surprise.  Although he has never been a director to move the narrative quickly, THREE MONKEYS’ slow pace approaches the limits of acceptability.  Ceylan makes sure his audience never knows for sure what is important and what is incidental, forcing the viewer to sharpen the senses.  The acting is uniformly good and the character development fits the story perfectly – not too much detail but enough depth to understand each character’s motivations.  Ceylan won the Best Director for THREE MONKEYS at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.  THREE MONKEYS was short listed for the Foreign Language Oscar.    4 1/2 cats"

Michael says: "Part noir, part melodrama, part art-house film, and just a dash of ghost story give Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s THREE MONKEYS quite a lot to work with despite it’s leisurely pace.  When Servet accidently runs down a man in a hit and run on a dark, winding road, he sees his political aspirations fading on the steamy breeze of this Turkish summer.  In desperation he turns to Eyüp, his chauffer and asks the stoic man to take the rap for him.  In exchange for a relatively light sentence, Eyüp will continue to receive his salary for his wife and teenage son, and in addition, receive a nice lump sum when he is released.  With just a brief pause, Eyüp agrees.  During his nine month imprisonment, his son Ismail runs afoul of some criminals, causing Eyüp’s wife, Hacer, to seek Servet’s aid through an advance on the money owed them.  When Hacer and Servet find themselves embarking on a secret affair, we just know things are going to end badly.  First Ismail discovers his mother’s indiscretion, then Eyüp returns from prison to decidedly tense and secretive household. 

"The effect of the melodrama, complete with shadowed faces, heavy, oppressive humidity, and diaphanous curtains billowing in the heavy breeze, sweat dripping from brows, and long, languid takes of bodies draped languorously across beds coupled with the long, quiet takes shot so powerfully and with stunning beauty by Ceylan and his cinematographer Gökhan Tiryaki.  The acting is strong, particularly Hatice Aslan as the beleaguered and conflicted Hacer.  An offhanded comment Hacer makes to her son about Eyüp hints at a liberation due to his imprisonment that is manifested in her affair is conveyed subtly and effectively by Hacer’s expressive face.  THREE MONKEYS probably isn’t for everyone, but I found it’s quiet, yet emotionally overwrought story to be compelling and finely crafted.  4 cats"