Reviews - Three Monkeys
Reviewed By John Stakes
In “Three Monkeys” his fifth and most ambitious feature which was screened last Sunday, Ceylan both refines this process and injects some audacious audio and visual flourishes which inform and illuminate the unfolding drama to produce his most accessible, deeply layered and utterly engrossing work to date. In short a masterpiece.
From the opening sequence in which corrupt politician Servet is seen at the wheel of his car driving home at night as tiredness sets in and is then released by the camera so that the car is observed in its own reducing light finally to disappear around a distant corner to the sound of squealing brakes, it was obvious that we were destined to be drawn in to the unfolding drama and manipulated by a director at the top of his game.
The plot was a blend of film noir and part Hitchcockian morality tale. Servet bribes his long serving driver Eyup to take the blame for killing a pedestrian, backed by a promise to pay a large wad of cash when he is released after serving a year’s imprisonment. During his incarceration Eyup’s wife Hacer ( a magnificent performance by Hatice Aslan who easily managed the feat of looking both careworn and alluring at the same time ) in league with her feckless son Ismail, persuade Servet to cough up an advance on the payout. This is used to buy a car. In return Servet encourages Hacer to have an affair with him which for her becomes a powerful infatuation but for him an idle distraction whilst Eyup is otherwise engaged.
The scene is thus set for Eyup’s release after nine months. Ceylan’s inspired interweaving of light, darkness, music, the sound of wind and silence, and the use of pared down dialogue generated almost unbearable tension and chemistry between the two leads as the cracks in their personal relationship were revealed as a chasm and the truth emerged from behind the façade of lies. There were directorial flourishes galore, none more so than the conjuring up of the ghost of their dead son who drowned as a child in the sea outside their Istanbul home. Only his arm could be seen as it wrapped itself around his father as Eyup lay on his bed in dire need of some comfort. Spellbinding.
On this showing Ceylan can count himself amongst the greats of modern cinema. The film carried off the best director prize for him at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and was richly deserved. It was a privilege to be able to see it and for this reviewer it was the best film of the Club’s 2009 season
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