Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
The Brisbane International Film Festival is underway - click here for our reviews from their great line-up!x
review, Monos, Monos, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Moisés Arias, Julianne Nicholson, Sofia Buenaventura, Karen Quintero, Julian Giraldo, Laura Castrillón, Deibi Rueda, Paul Cubides, Sneider Castro, Wilson Salazar, Alejandro Landes, Drama, Thriller

MONOS

★★★★

A HYPNAGOGIC MIX OF TEEN ANGST AND WARFARE

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
5th August 2019

It’s always a suspect decision to call a film “indescribable”, at least when assessing it as a whole. Certain aspects may and often do elude one’s ability to comprehend on a moment by moment basis, but in general a movie - especially one which adheres to a set narrative - can be summed up purely in terms of subject matter, theme, and so on. It might not necessarily be the case that there is nothing new under the sun, but it is quite difficult, at least at this point in the evolution of art, to create a narrative consisting of totally uncharted territory.

With that said, is ‘Monos’ indescribable? On a surface level, this film by co-writer and director Alejandro Landes is certainly not: its a mix of William Golding's ‘Lord of the Flies’ (complete with a pig's head on a pole) and Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Apocalypse Now’, with some of Cary Fukunaga’s ‘Beasts Of No Nation’ sprinkled on top. But it would be equally misleading to say that this film is in any way stale, rote, or conventional.

The simple plot follows a rebel group of teenage commandos bearing noms de guerre like Dog (Paul Cubides), Lady (Karen Quintero), Rambo (Sofia Buenaventura), Smurf (Deiby Rueda), Bigfoot (Moses Arias, ‘Pitch Perfect 3’, ‘Ender's Game’), Wolf (Julián Giraldo), Swede (Laura Castrillón) and Boom-Boom (Esneider Castro), stationed at a remote mountaintop setting somewhere in Latin America.

'MONOS' TRAILER

The child soldiers play games and perform military training exercises while watching over a hostage, a kidnapped doctor they simply call Doctora (Julianne Nicholson, ‘I, Tonya’) for an ill-defined force known only as The Organisation. They also have to take care of a conscripted milk cow named Shakira, which is valued for the protein in its milk. There are aggressive and sexual currents which complicate the subjects’ cliffside existence. Tensions aren’t exactly running high, but things are definitely getting hormonal, even for Doctora.

Occasionally visiting them is a muscular midget referred to as Messenger (ex-guerrilla Wilson Salazar). He forces the teens through a series of torturous physical routines, encourages them to reveal each other’s secrets and assigns them sexual partners, then disappears again.

Shot on location in Colombia on the Chingaza páramo in Cundinamarca, the beautiful cloud-shrouded mountain is an abstract, almost surreal universe, even before the kids start tripping on the magic mushrooms growing in Shakira’s dung. Cinematographer Jasper Wolf uses dreamlike colour to give the film its rich mysteriousness and poetic beauty, accompanied by Mica Levi's unsettling score. The result is a kind of cinematic Terrence Mallick-y delirium; an aesthetic hallucinogen that emphasises the strangeness of this tale even further, whilst also creating a psychedelic atmosphere that succeeds in leaving the audience feeling buoyant.

Shot on location in Colombia on the Chingaza páramo in Cundinamarca, the beautiful cloud-shrouded mountain is an abstract, almost surreal universe, even before the kids start tripping on the magic mushrooms growing in Shakira’s dung.

The film’s slim plot also has a feverish quality. How long have the kids been there? Why have they imprisoned Doctora? What are the goals and ideology of The Organisation? When an ambush from an unseen enemy drives the squadron into the jungle (shot in the Samaná river canyon in Antioquia), things take a turn for the nightmarish as the group begins to fracture and Bigfoot establishes that the teens are a separate group to The Organisation.

It is here that Landes stages scenes that look so dangerous that you’ll be reminded of Mel Gibson’s epic chase flick, ‘Apocalypto’. Nicholson commits admirably to the physical demands of her character, as the captured doctor escapes the gang’s chains and tries to survive in the wilderness. There is a harrowing scene where Doctora tries to rest overnight in a jungle, desperately holding a plastic bag over her own head to keep the legions of buzzing bugs and mosquitoes away from her face.

When the teens go completely feral, the innocent Smurf and Swede, who has a romantic attachment to Doctora, remain sympathetic. The androgynous, remorseful Rambo becomes the closest thing to a protagonist. It’s a rather weird and interesting take on ‘Lord of the Flies’ that seems to focus more on the ways we try to avoid the transition from carefree youth to the responsibilities of adulthood, even if it means keeping our adult selves permanently imprisoned or blasting them with machine guns. It also shares some similarities with Bertrand Mandico’s ‘The Wild Boys’, which focused on gender-fluid characters and the violence of youthful sexual energy.

Perhaps the best way to describe the film is to keep it simple: ‘Monos’ is a mood, an aesthetic, an idea; a sensory cinematic experience more than a story.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 1h 42m
CAST: Moisés Arias
Julianne Nicholson
Sofia Buenaventura
Karen Quintero
Julian Giraldo
Laura Castrillón
Deibi Rueda
Paul Cubides
Sneider Castro
Wilson Salazar
DIRECTOR: Alejandro Landes
WRITERS: Alejandro Landes
Alexis Dos Santos
PRODUCERS: Santiago A. Zapata
Fernando Epstein
SCORE: Mica Levi
MonosFilm
MonosFilm
MonosFilm
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Melbourne International Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil - Disney still have some magic left in them
TRENDINGMALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVILDisney still have some magic left in them
NT Live: Fleabag - The birth of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's masterwork
TRENDINGNT LIVE: FLEABAGThe birth of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's masterwork
Brisbane International Film Festival 2019 - The Reviews
TRENDINGBRISBANE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019The Reviews
Midsommar: The Director's Cut - Ari Aster elevates an already remarkable film to a masterpiece
TRENDINGMIDSOMMAR: THE DIRECTOR'S CUTAri Aster elevates an already remarkable film to a masterpiece
Strange but True - All-star cast saves thriller from being a total misfire
TRENDINGSTRANGE BUT TRUEAll-star cast saves thriller from being a total misfire
Portrait of a Lady on Fire - A perfect film on the language of desire
TRENDINGPORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIREA perfect film on the language of desire
Matthias and Maxime - A magical film on the complexity of friendship and love
TRENDINGMATTHIAS AND MAXIMEA magical film on the complexity of friendship and love
Judy & Punch - A dark fairytale from a fresh Australian voice
TRENDINGJUDY & PUNCHA dark fairytale from a fresh Australian voice
School of Seduction - Husband hunting in Russia
TRENDINGSCHOOL OF SEDUCTIONHusband hunting in Russia
River's Edge - The kids aren't alright
TRENDINGRIVER'S EDGEThe kids aren't alright
Bangla - A truly beautiful mess
TRENDINGBANGLAA truly beautiful mess
Children of the Sea - Sunk by a soggy script
TRENDINGCHILDREN OF THE SEASunk by a soggy script
Standing Up For Sunny - A comedy without the comedy but very sweet
TRENDINGSTANDING UP FOR SUNNYA comedy without the comedy but very sweet
2040 - A hopeful look into our environmental future
TRENDING2040A hopeful look into our environmental future
Red Pill, Blue Pill - 10 Films Influenced by 'The Matrix' on its 20th anniversary
TRENDINGRED PILL, BLUE PILL10 Films Influenced by 'The Matrix' on its 20th anniversary
La La Land - What to make of this musical dream?
TRENDINGLA LA LANDWhat to make of this musical dream?
Lion - A raw and powerful journey of identity
TRENDINGLIONA raw and powerful journey of identity
Judy - Zellweger goes for Oscar gold in mid-core biopic
TRENDINGJUDYZellweger goes for Oscar gold in mid-core biopic
Locusts - A low-key, low-down thriller
TRENDINGLOCUSTSA low-key, low-down thriller
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil - Disney still have some magic left in them
TRENDINGMALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVILDisney still have some magic left in them
© 2011 - 2019 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us