Three Monkeys Nuri-Bilge Ceylan

Three Monkeys Nuri-Bilge Ceylan
Cinemascope magazine blew this movie off by saying it was nine monkeys less good than a certain Terry Gilliam movie. I don’t know if the situation is that dire but I certainly got fewer monkeys than I felt I had coming.

This inexplicable prizewinner at Cannes deals with a man who takes the fall for a murder that might embarrass a politician friend. That friend immediately takes up with the patsy’s wife, with their adolescent son angry as hell to be caught in the crossfire. Papa is released and awkward situations arise.

Surely this could be the stuff of a powder keg drama but to pull that off you’d have to have some point of view on the characters. Alas there’s nothing much here beyond the inherent profundity of frowny people being miserable. And while the outline is enough to keep you watching it doesn’t exactly get a death grip on your sensibilities.

Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan has done much better; his international breakthrough, Distant, spun great swathes of interest out of people doing nothing. Here we have the opposite problem: a seriously charged situation doesn’t have any heat because it hangs in space without context. Aside from one very ugly scene of spousal abuse, this didn’t at all offend me, and the suggestiveness of the outline kept me nominally interested until its ridiculous climax.

It’s one of those movies that you can watch if it’s in front of you but can’t exactly recommend. When you know that somewhere there are Desperate Housewives reruns, the travails of sketchy Turkish sufferers just don’t seem like an entertainment option. (Mongrel Media)