Sunday, November 9, 2014

Üç Maymun (Three Monkeys) (2008)

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Writers:  Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Ebru Ceylan, Ercan Kesal
Cast:       Yavuz Bingol, Hatice Aslan, Ahmet Rifat Sungar, Ercan Kesal
Language: Turkish

A politician gearing up for election kills someone in a car accident. He persuades his driver to take the blame for it in return for a lump-sum amount of money when he gets released apart from his regular salary that will go to his family which consists of his wife and a jobless son. When he is in the jail, communication breaks down between the members of the family.

The title of the film is based on 'Gandhi's Three monkeys'-which is depicted usually by the sculpture of three monkeys conveying- "See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil".  
It actually originated in Japan in the seventeenth century but became famous as a visual metaphor for Gandhi's non-violent fight against colonialism, oppression and injustice. The other side of this tolerant and peaceful society is one which chooses a head in the sand approach and this is what Nuri Bilge Ceylan explores in the this film. Even as driver's wife enters into an adulterous relationship with the politician, the members of the family chooses to bury their heads in the sand since they can tolerate the disturbing status-quo and is quite happy with the monetary reward. Out of all the Ceylan films I have seen, 'Three Monkeys' is the most plot driven one and it works out as a noir genre piece. It is also the only one in which Ceyan has got writing partners which might explain the tonal difference when compared with his other films. 

I don't know whether the print I got was bad because there wasn't much color in the film and it looked like a grim greyish hell. It could be intentional as well considering the subject matter. Overall the film is a great watch but I think the story is much more relatable for people from the developing world because of the power distance between the characters which the Western audience might find unusual. I didn't particularly like the ending bit where the driver is seen persuading a poor acquaintance to take the blame for a crime that his family committed. Thought it was a half-arsed attempt by the director to shoe-horn a message that people from all classes behave in similar manner when they are in a position of relative power. It is definitely the weakest Ceylan film I have seen but still a very good one.

 Rating: 3.5/5