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Eastern Bloc's Best Film

Out of this year's selection for the SBIFF's Eastern Europe sidebar, Three Monkeys is the finest film. Cleverly titled and visually enchanting, the Turkish film best expresses the Eastern Europe predominant trend in its modern films - an emphasis on the ob scenes and the unspoken. A family of three destroys itself, as each is unable to communicate or trust one another. The father Ey~A 1/4 p (Yavuz Bingl) takes the blame for his boss's hit-and-run accident. While in jail, his wife Hacer (Hatice Aslan) seeks comfort from her solitude the latter, Servet (Ercan Kesal). Ey~A 1/4 p and Hacer's son, Ismael (Ahmet Rifat Sungar), appears to have lost his direction and his identity. All three are haunted by past problems, but they strive to survive against the ghosts alone by not speaking about the past. In these efforts to forget, each seeks refuge in present distractions only to realize that they have swept too much under the carpet, as we witness in Ismael's vomiting scene.

Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan is a genius at revealing the family's dynamics. With little dialogue, Ceylan creates a film devoted to the observation of the character. It is the viewer's job to study, understand, and become Hacer, Ey~A 1/4 p, and Ismael. Ceylan succeeds in engaging the viewer in this exercise through his original filming style. Having begun his career through photography, he drives the movie through single colors that dominate specific series of scenes to influence the mood. The Turkish director films each scene as if taking a portrait of each character. Thank goodness the chosen actors are phenomenal performers. They obviously did not have to memorize many lines, but they have immense talent as the film requires pure acting: capturing the quintessential body language that Hacer would assume upon heartbreak, contorting the perfect facial expression when Ismael confronts his mother about the affair, and restraining Ey~A 1/4 p's choler when facing his wife.

Ceylan's Three Monkeys is a photography exhibit that drags the observer into its subjects' hidden tensions that slowly seep from their frames - a film for the most insightful and patient.

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