monos

★★★

DIRECTOR: Alejandro Landes (Porfirio)
STARRING: Julianne Nicholson, Moises Arias Sofia Buenaventura and Julian Giraldo

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

On a remote mountaintop, eight kids with guns watch over a hostage and a conscripted milk cow.

Monos is a weird film. Not the strangest I’ve seen by far, but with elements both narratively and visually that are both beautiful and bonkers that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled. 

On a remote mountaintop in Latin America a rebel group of teenage commandos, belonging to a group called ‘the Organisation’, perform military training exercises and guard an American hostage. They live tranquil lives in relative peace. But when their position is compromised after an attack they are forced deeper into the jungle. As their mission begins to collapse, they are thrust into an unforgiving and primal environment. Their situation spirals out of control, as allegiances shift and they have to do whatever it takes to survive. 

Monos, a darling of the indie film circuit last year culminating in it being Colombia’s International Feature entry at this year's Oscars, isn’t a happy, clappy fun time to have at the cinema. It’s grim. Like Lord of the Flies, Apocalypse Now kinda grim. 

Even though there is some obvious instability in the situation (they’re teenage commandos guarding a prisoner out in the middle of nowhere), it’s the slow and steady descent into the deepest depravity of humanity that is on display here. 

For the most part the story holds its own and engages the audience, but it’s the obvious cinematic and literary influences that have already been mentioned that robs Monos of true originality.

Even though it’s apparent that director Landes is attempting to teach us some deep truth through this allegory, it's elusive, not readily obvious and ultimately unclear what Landes really wants to show us. 

That being said the cinematography and score are breathtaking and the ensemble cast are outstanding in every painstaking detail.

While not wholly original, Monos takes us on the slow and descent into the deepest depravity of humanity with an outstanding ensemble cast and breathtaking cinematography and score.

★★★

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