Three Monkeys (Uc Maymun) (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/02/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 109 mins

Beautifully shot, impressively directed and emotionally gripping, this is an award-winning drama with strong performances from its four leads.

What's it all about?
Directed by arthouse darling Nuri Bilge Ceylan (who took the Best Director prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival), Three Monkeys is set in Turkey and stars Yavoz Bingol as Eyup, a driver who agrees to take the rap for a hit-and-run (which is expected to be a short jail sentence), in return for a financial reward from his politician boss, Servet (Ercan Kessel). However, while Eyup is serving his time, his son Ismail (Ahmet Rifat Sungar) falls in with a bad crowd and gets into debt, so Eyup's wife Hacer (Hatice Aslan) approaches Servet for an advance.

Sure enough, the self-serving Servet takes advantage of the situation and begins an affair with Hacer, which is, in turn, discovered by Ismail. And when Eyup gets out of jail, the tension between all four characters finally comes to the boil.

The Good
The performances are excellent, particularly Hatice Aslan, whose character gradually reveals unexpected complexity. Similarly, Ercan Kessel is supremely sleazy as Servet (and is decidedly less complex than Hacer) and Yavoz Bingol is quietly impressive as the amusingly-named Eyup.

The pared-down script nonetheless exerts a tight moral grip, to the point where the climax of the film is fraught with emotional tension. In addition, Ceylan orchestrates some extremely impressive sequences, such as a lengthy, dramatic confrontation that takes place entirely in long shot and an incredibly tense scene that plays out off-screen but is watched by another character, with the camera staying on that character's face throughout.

The Great
The film is also beautifully shot, with visually stunning compositions and lush cinematography courtesy of Gokhan Tiryaki. It's fair to say that the structure and pacing of the film aren't exactly multiplex-friendly (it drags significantly in the middle section), though the themes and performances more than compensate for its hardcore arthouse moments.

Worth seeing?
In short, Three Monkeys is a visually stunning, impressively directed and emotionally gripping drama that's well worth seeking out.

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Content updated: 19/08/2018 12:43

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