Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
Joel interviews the MIFF team to find out what's in this year's program announcement! Click to listen to our special SWITCHCast ep now.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 film rating

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.

WATCH: 'MONOS'
WATCH HUNDREDS OF UNIQUE FILMS
SWITCH
WATCH

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: 22/06/2020
RUN TIME: 1h 43m
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
Alejandro Landes
Cristina Landes
SCORE: Mica Levi
www.monos-film.com
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. 
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
Who the hell is Bloodshot? - A primer on Vin Diesel's superhero
TRENDINGWHO THE HELL IS BLOODSHOT?A primer on Vin Diesel's superhero
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
Gallipoli - A powerful and important film remembered
TRENDINGGALLIPOLIA powerful and important film remembered
The World at War - The landmark documentary series restored in high definition
TRENDINGTHE WORLD AT WARThe landmark documentary series restored in high definition
Malila: The Farewell Flower - Contemplating love and loss
TRENDINGMALILA: THE FAREWELL FLOWERContemplating love and loss
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two - New villains, same problems
TRENDINGBATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, PART TWONew villains, same problems
Buckley's Chance - Not worth a chance
TRENDINGBUCKLEY'S CHANCENot worth a chance
Calm with Horses - A savage and sensitive Irish crime drama
TRENDINGCALM WITH HORSESA savage and sensitive Irish crime drama
Shiva Baby - A comedy of discomfort
TRENDINGSHIVA BABYA comedy of discomfort
The Glass Room - Stunning yet soulless
TRENDINGTHE GLASS ROOMStunning yet soulless
Some Kind of Heaven - A bizarre lens into a Floridian retirement village
TRENDINGSOME KIND OF HEAVENA bizarre lens into a Floridian retirement village
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
The Swallows of Kabul - Unflinching and gorgeously animated
TRENDINGTHE SWALLOWS OF KABULUnflinching and gorgeously animated
Cerulean Blue - Promising debut for a new voice in Australian cinema
TRENDINGCERULEAN BLUEPromising debut for a new voice in Australian cinema
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
TRENDINGTHE VIOLIN PLAYERSex and strings
2:22 - Mind-bending metaphysical mumbo-jumbo
TRENDING2:22Mind-bending metaphysical mumbo-jumbo
Birds of Prey - I'm here to report a terrible crime: DC has saved cinema
TRENDINGBIRDS OF PREYI'm here to report a terrible crime: DC has saved cinema
La Dolce Vita - Not as sweet as you'd think 60 years on
TRENDINGLA DOLCE VITANot as sweet as you'd think 60 years on
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!