2008 // Turkey // Nuri Bilge Ceylan // November 20, 2009 // Theatrical Print (Landmark Plaza Frontenac Cinema)
Noir doesn't come much more languid than Three Monkeys, a moody Turkish thriller that concerns itself as much with hidden ugliness as it does with naked emotional upheavals. Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan sketches this story of loyalty and lust with the thinnest of narrative lines, but via a style that practically howls its themes to the moon. Hence the florid, queasy detail captured with his HD video: slick sweat on greasy skin, lifeless urban spaces of yellow and green, and cloudy skies that seem almost bruised. There are dabs of magical realism as well, as a harrowing specter lurches through and clings to the lives of the principals. Shut up in a cramped apartment but miles away from each other, loutish husband Eyüp, dissatisfied wife Hacer, and troubled son Ismail contend with a maze of lies, all flowing from Eyüp's fateful decision to take the fall for his boss's hit-and-run accident. Ceylan doesn't add sufficient dramatic energy to the proceedings to justify the film's ostentatious pacing, and Three Monkeys never feels like it connects with his thematic ambitions. Still, as a lusciously stylized--and often deliciously ugly--glimpse of human folly, it's satisfactory.