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Three Monkeys [DVD] 
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Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's film tells the story of a family blown apart by lies and non-communication. When Servet (Ercan Kesal), a politician involved in a car accident, asks his driver Eyup (Yavoz Bingol) to take the rap - a short jail sentence - in return for a financial reward, the driver's wife Hacer (Hatice Aslan) and teenage son Ismail (Ritaf Sungar) are inevitably affected by Eyup's decision to take the money. Wishing to help her son, Hacer approaches Servet for an advance, and soon gets more involved with him than she bargained for. Before long, all four characters find themselves trapped in a tangled web of guilt and deceit...
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In this film it seems that the ingredients are all pulling perfectly in the same direction. A husband takes the fall for his politician friend and is jailed while his friend is voted in. His son provides the contrast to how the younger generation reacts and understands the father's situation. The wife then has an illicit affair with the politician friend while her husband is in jail. As with Uzak, the characters' actions, along with their psychic twists and turns, are moulded slowly and thoughtfully (not to everyone's taste I admit) and the film looks starker and more thriller-like, image-wise, than Uzak was.
Three Monkeys also acts as a great analysis of political denial, and I like the way that it intertwines the personal and the political in taking on an analysis and criticism of the family as a whole. The title also intrigues... are these three characters simply animals who have evolved in order to play dumb about themselves and each other? Is it a metaphor for the corruption of Turkish politics and Turkish culture? The movie is deep enough to probe these questions in their fundamental and universal aspects though, which, I think, a good piece of art should strive to do.
All in all, the question of political denial, political will and political risk-taking all seem to me to be very intriguing human problems in 2009, and, under Bilge Ceylan's subtle and engaging direction, make for a stunning and illuminating statement.
As much as I love the film and wish to celebrate Mr. Ceylan's familiar, gorgeous imagery, I believe that the images themselves raised more questions with the occasionally overwrought visual touches than helped to serve the film. This is a more arresting-looking film than either "Distant" or "Climates." Mr. Ceylan's typically stripped-down narrative is well served by his flawless photographer's eye for composition - his pacing is perfect, echoing the authority of a master like Abbas Kairostami.
However, in a few instances the manner in which filters/post-production/visual effects were used I found distracting. In a lesser filmmaker, or one whose stories are less contemplative one could ignore these touches. In this story it made the narrative feel perhaps less important than the images. Or there was less concern about the tale than taking certain risks with the images. Whatever the reason, I fell out of the story at those moments, noticing the filmmaker manipulating the image, albeit to create something remarkable. I don't wish to imply that these rare moments ruined a great film; simply that it made me care less.
All this points to a more complicated discussion about photographing emotional states and capturing that indefinable, relational electricity between characters, which ultimately is very personal. On it's own terms, "Three Monkeys" remains a powerful film and stylistic risks aside, I've enjoyed watching it several times.
I highly recommend it.
The focus then shifts to Eyup's family and we see how things go badly awry when the mother, Hacer, approaches Servet for an advance on the payment to try to help her failing teenage son, but also begins an affair with him which ultimately has dire consequences.
The film is partially effective with the down-at-heel Istanbul neighbourhood in which it is set, overlooking the Bosphorus, helping to create a brooding sense of melancholy, but it also seems monotonous at times since the dialogue is insufficiently developed and Ceylan shows a penchant for lingering excessively on shots of individuals at the expense of pace and genuine dramatic interest.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing film, brilliant director. He won the Best Director in Cannes three years in a rowPublished 7 months ago by QB
A note on the subtitles:
The subtitle menu on our first few DVDs was not very intuitive:
You have to actively choose to turn the subtitles on: every DVD player and DVD... Read more
English subtitles work on the trailer but not on the main film. I tried three DVDs players so it's a disc fault. Check with seller before buying.Published 9 months ago by Sebastian Longshanks
Much more Interior than some of his other films such as Winter Sleep this still has the power to grip, and, almost as importantly, continues to resonate in the mind, days or even... Read morePublished 17 months ago by D. Shanahan
Interesting story and how Nuri Bilge Ceylan deals with infidelity in a Muslim country is handled sensitively. The photography is breathtaking. Stunning film and well worth a look.Published on 6 Dec. 2013 by RONAN R OSULLIVAN
Excellent film on so many levels. Raises fundamental moral questions, but does so without 'preaching'. Read morePublished on 19 April 2012 by _roope_