Saturday, August 30, 2008

Toronto 08 | Three Monkeys / Üç maymun by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Country: Turkey/France/Italy
Year: 2008
Language: Turkish
Runtime: 109 minutes
Format: Colour/35mm

Production Company: Zeynofilm Produksiyon Hizmetleri Ltd./NBC Film/Pyramide Productions/BIM Distribuzione
Producer: Zeynep Özbatur
Screenplay: Ebru Ceyland, Ercan Kesal, Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Production Designer: Ebru Ceylan
Cinematographer: Gökhan Tiryaki
Editor: Ayhan Ergürsel, Bora Göksingöl, Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Sound: Murat Senürkmez
Principal Cast: Hatice Aslan, Gürkan Aydin, Yavuz Bingöl, Ercan Kesal, Ahmet Rifat Sungar

Canadian Distributor: Mongrel Media
US Distributor: New Yorker Films
International Sales Agent: Pyramide International

Expanding upon his work in Climates, Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan delivers another searing psychological drama about the unspoken dynamics in a dysfunctional family.

Taking the proverbial “three monkeys” as its title and moral anchor, Ceylan's newest film is composed of tightly wound secrets; evils that are not seen, heard or spoken, but which wreak a distressing havoc on the characters' lives.

Servet (Ercan Kesal), a wealthy politician, has caused a hit-and-run accident, and persuades his driver, Eyüp (Yavuz Bingöl), to assume responsibility. Eyüp is promised a sizeable sum of money upon his release from prison, but this initial act of subterfuge leads to much darker deceits.

In his absence, Eyüp's seductive wife Hacer (Hatice Aslan) becomes involved with Servet, and the couple's brooding teenaged son Ismail must carry the weight of their secret when he visits his father in jail.

Eyüp's release functions as a metaphorical unleashing of past indiscretions – his family's deceits, desires, infidelities and anxieties surface as grand moral fictions. Ceylan plays these against one another, harnessing the inability of Eyüp, Hacer, Ismail and Servet to communicate among themselves and wringing the resulting tension through every scene. Blind to the violence and moral decay brought about by their actions, they eventually – and collectively – come to personify the eponymous monkeys.

As he did on Climates, Ceylan works here with cinematographer Gökhan Tiryaki to produce breathtaking high-definition images, again demonstrating the exceptional potential of digital technology. Ceylan's sombre aesthetic and bracing statements make for a thrilling investigation into the mysterious contradictions of the human soul. This is a stunning work that confirms Ceylan as a master of his art.

Dimitri Eipides

Nuri Bilge Ceylan was born in Istanbul and graduated with an engineering degree from Bosphorus University before studying filmmaking for two years at Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul. His films include the short Cocoon (95) and the features The Small Town (97), Clouds of May (00), Distant (03), which won the Grand Prix as well as the prize for best actor for its two male leads at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, and Climates (06). Three Monkeys (08) is his fifth feature.

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