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Three Monkeys (2008)
"Üç maymun" (original title)

Unrated  |   |  Drama  |  24 October 2008 (Turkey)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 13,324 users   Metascore: 73/100
Reviews: 37 user | 113 critic | 14 from

A family suffers from a major communication breakdown during their struggle to get through their hardships.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview:
Eyüp (as Yavuz Bingöl)
Ercan Kesal ...
Cafer Köse ...
Gürkan Aydin ...


Near the Bosporus, Eyüp and Hacer live in a modest flat with their son Ismail, in his twenties, who's doing poorly in his studies. Few words pass between them, and a past family tragedy brings sorrow daily. On a rainy night, Eyüp's boss Servet, a wealthy businessman who's entering politics, hits a pedestrian on a lonely road. He drives off and offers money to Eyüp if Eyüp will take the fall - probably a six-month sentence. Eyüp agrees, and while he's in prison, Ismail wants his mother to ask Servet for enough money to buy a car. Servet, in turn, desires Hacer. How can this play out? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




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Release Date:

24 October 2008 (Turkey)  »

Also Known As:

Three Monkeys  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$3,045 (USA) (27 March 2009)


$41,343 (USA) (17 July 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Turkey's 2009 Academy Awards official submission to Foreign-Language Film category. See more »


Ismail's safety belt fastened on and off at consecutive cuts,while he is driving his father back from the prison. See more »

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User Reviews

Nuri Bilge Ceylan: always different, always the same.
5 January 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There is something about Nuri Bilge Ceylan's films that have always set itself apart from other films on the international stage: its ability to resonate with an audience. Although set in Turkey his films' story lines have the ability to connect with an audience from any region while also being able to utilize a major city's inner-turmoil via its transmitting landscapes, exhaustive loneliness and its sheer beauty. And "Three Monkeys" is no exception.

The story is the most complex and inter-connected of Ceylan's career and because of this he opts to use actors with previous experience for the first time (outside of his actress wife in "Climates"). A series of hidden secrets and unfolding lies keeps the family distant and increasingly torn apart from each other until a breaking point brings them back full circle. The "best-laid-plans" aspect of the film gives it a tinge of film-noir as it uses this device to present the family in its wondrous failures.

Having seen each of Ceylan's previous works my first expectation before seeing this film was breathtaking cinematography (and it did not disappoint in the least). Seeing Ceylan present the wondrous rain clouds that burst and crash above the dusty traffic-filled streets of Istanbul throughout this film as well as many of his others never gets old. "Three Monkeys" itself starts with a beautiful presentation of a car riding hidden paths that circle inside a forest's midnight darkness before it disappears from sight completely perhaps evoking questions as to why anyone would need to make their way through such landscapes at such an hour but at the risk of being cliché: "c'est la vie".

The use of established actors provided some consolation for the audience who could believe and connect with three characters who slowly went about their lives of self-destruction and self-deception until all secrets and lies were laid out on the table for the whole family to bear. The father who went through great hardship for his family finds only heartbreak following his efforts, the guilt-ridden son who is haunted by the memory of a younger brother whose tragic death he feels responsible for and must now deal with the knowledge of a mother who has found the love and affection of another man who is simply using her. The wide array of camera angles and mixture of shots of varying range and clarity enables Ceylan to convey the feelings and thoughts of his characters while still allowing the audience to follow the foreshadowing plot.

The usual Ceylan trademarks resonate within "Three Monkeys" both technically and spiritually while also showing his audience that with each time-out and with each film he can take his stories and characters into a completely new direction while taking his audience along for the ride. The slow, motionless shots give the audience a silence that swells with his characters' feelings and showcases a family's ability to communicate without words. This film has the ability to simultaneously show an audience a beautiful city and its inhabitants while also revealing real-life characters who let their emotions go to the extreme due to jealousy, rage and lust which can be found within anyone in the world.

Note: At Cannes, Ceylan picked up the Best Director prize and the film was subsequently chosen by Turkey to be its nominee for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

25 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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