One foolish decision puts a working-class family of three on the path to destruction in director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's spare, meditative morality tale. A politician involved in a fatal hit-and-run convinces his driver, Eyup, to take the fall; he promises a significant lump sum as payment. During a year stint in jail, Eyup leaves behind his broody, shiftless adult son and a concerned wife, Hacer. Like Eyup, she chooses a path that she hopes will help the family, but which leads only to further disruption and tragedy.
Ceylan, who also made the similarly moody Climates, is an idiosyncratic but assured director. There are long, dialogue-free takes, atypical angles and camera set-ups, and the look of the film is deliberately washed-out. (Never has a seaside residence looked so gloomy and foreboding.) While clearly Ceylan places great stock in the visuals to convey mood, Three Monkeys, like his earlier works, also makes great use of everyday sound.
The title undoubtedly refers to the well-known trio of monkeys who respectively choose not to hear, see or speak. Among this family's problems is the inability to communicate effectively, letting unresolved betrayals, anger, longings and disappointments become toxic. (This is a family that we later discover was already burdened and frayed; in this loosely scripted story, a search for redemption may explain why individual members took such risks.) The resolution is open-ended, but leaves the strong impression that despite the terrible tolls, little has been learned in this circular drama. In Turkish, with subtitles. Fri., July 17, through Sun., July 19. Melwood