click to enlarge
Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
The Turkish writer-director Nuri Bilge Ceylan made his name on two downbeat but dryly amusing mood pieces, Distant
, and he follows them up with Three Monkeys
, a downbeat mood piece/thriller/melodrama whose Confucian title lends an unfortunate air of philosophical gimmickry to the proceedings. The film is thankfully not structured around looming signposts for seeing, hearing and speaking no evil, though it might be a stretch to say the story unfolds organically: An asleep-at-the-wheel politician pays off an employee to take the manslaughter fall for him, setting off a cycle of bad behavior and appearance-preserving by the incarcerated man’s wife and son.
, with its digital grain and desaturated palette, is more conventionally stylized than Ceylan’s previous work, but it is typically stunning to look at. The family at the core of the film lives in a cramped apartment in a slightly leaning structure somewhere on the edges of Istanbul. Train tracks and a highway separate the edifice from the sea. The building seems the last vestige of something, defiantly resisting the encroachments of the trains, cars and ships that pass closely by every day, perhaps just as the family stubbornly remains intact under so many great pressures. The remarkable views from this building are enough to make you wish something more compelling were going on inside.
Opens May 1