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Drei Affen - Nichts hören - nichts sehen - nichts sagen (Three Monkeys, Üç maymun)

This is not a relaxing Sunday afternoon film for the whole family, but a powerful drama by the Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan. It is a slow-moving film, requiring all your patience through the deliberately long close-ups developing an eerie tension. There is no background music and few words are spoken. The three protagonists try to hide their secret lives from each other living by the metaphor of the proverbial Three Monkeys (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil).

The film starts with a sleepy man driving through the rainy night. He hits a pedestrian and flees the scene. The hit-and-run driver, the politician Servat (Ercan Kesal), makes a phone call – not to the police but to the home of his chauffeur Eyüp (Yavuz Bingol). A deal is made. The innocent Eyüp is going to prison for his boss’s crime in exchange for a nice sum of money on his release. Meanwhile, his wife Hacer (Hatice Aslan) and their son Ismail (Ahmet Rifat Sungar) are left on their own in the small, shabby apartment. The unscrupulous boss takes an interest in Eyüp’s wife, who enjoys his flattering attention. Ismail, a depressing, moody youth, is at first shocked when he discovers his mother’s affair. In time he realizes how to take advantage of this new situation. The dramatic events take their course when finally father Eyüp returns home. After some gripping emotional scenes the film ends with an unexpected subtle and cynical twist.

This is very much a festival film, and the exceptionally well-crafted cinematography will be appreciated by the discerning cinema lover. In spite of the predominantly dark colours, fitting the mood, there are artistically brilliant and perfectly composed shots. At the 2008 Cannes Film Festival Three Monkeys won the award for Best Director. (Birgit Schrumpf)

 

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