Friday, 16 May 2008

Cannes 2008: Three Monkeys

I remember being blown away by Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Uzak (Distant) when I saw it at Cannes in 2003. His latest, Three Monkeys, is his third film to be shown in the Official Competition. I can't wait to see it.

"An ostensibly routine noir-style psychological thriller vaults into the realms of high art in competition contender Three Monkeys," writes Screen's Jonathan Romney. "Cannes has been kind to Turkey's Nuri Bilge Ceylan in the past, with Uzak and Climates establishing his auteur credentials here in 2003 and 2006. His new film represents a bold departure from his past style: it's best described as introspective melodrama, yet both visually and tonally, it's still quintessential Ceylan. For the first time, Ceylan really involves himself in narrative complexity, spinning a subtly-twisty yarn with echoes of such crime writers as Simenon and James M. Cain. Three Monkeys will consolidate Ceylan's reputation among art-house cognoscenti, but should win him new fans too. Its genre bent should give it a niche crossover appeal for export, in ways that Uzak and Climates never quite reached."

Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeff Wells calls it "a quietly devastating Turkish family drama about guilt, adultery and lots of Biblical thunderclaps. It's about people doing wrong things, one leading to another in a terrible chain, and trying to face or at least deal with the consequences but more often trying to lie and deny their way out of them. I was hooked from the get-go — gripped, fascinated. I was in a fairly excited state because I knew — I absolutely knew — I was seeing the first major film of the festival. Three Monkeys is about focus and clarity in every sense of those terms, but it was mainly, for me, about stunning performances — minimalist acting that never pushes and begins and ends in the eyes who are quietly hurting every step of the way. It's a very dark and austere film that unfolds at a purposeful but meditative (which absolutely doesn't mean "slow") pace, taking its time and saying to the audience, Don't worry, this is going somewhere...we're not jerking around so pay attention to the steps."

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