Director: Alejandro Landes
Starring: Julianne Nicholson, Moisés Arias, Sofia Buenaventura, Julian Giraldo, Karen Quintero, Laura Castrillón, Deiby Rueda, Esneider Castro, Paul Cubides
It’s not every day that you sit in front of a movie not knowing what you’re in for, and I really wasn’t expecting when I sat down to watch Alejandro Landes’ film, Monos.
I’ll give you a brief, and when I say brief, I mean very brief, synopsis of the movie because it’s better not to know too much about the movie.
The Monos are a small group of children soldiers living on a remote Colombian mountaintop, and they’re having to watch over a prisoner of war, only referred to as ‘Doctora’ (Julianne Nicholson). After that, some stuff happens and I’m not going to go into anything else that takes place in this movie.
I’ll leave it there because I really don’t want to spoil anything about this film. What I will do is tell you how I felt whilst watching it.
Monos by name, Monos by nature
Watching Monos is like being put into a tumble dryer of emotions and it’s on a really fast spin cycle.
You’ll end up not knowing which was it up and which is down. I remember just sitting there when the credits started to roll and I felt like I had experienced every single human emotion possible. It’s a real gut-punch of a movie.
Alejandro Landes’ film is brutal. It’s violent. It’s passionate. It’s devastating. It’s sad, but it’s also full of tenderness, and some genuinely joyful moments.
Then there’s the way it looks. This film is a work of art. There’s no other way to describe it. It looks sublime. The scenes which take place on that Columbian mountaintop wouldn’t have seemed out of place in a science-fiction movie.
I remember thinking that this location would be an excellent spot for a Star Wars movie. It looks like a totally different planet.
The way the mountaintop they were on was above the clouds makes it seem like you’re witnessing what’s going on in heaven.
Then there’s the huge contrast with the scenes in Monos which take place deep in the South American jungle, and it feels more like you’re in a Predator movie, especially with some scenes involving night-vision goggles, which had me thinking of the Predator’s heat-seeking vision.
It’s a real onslaught for the senses. The film is shot in such a way that it makes you feel like you’re there in the action.
A real onslaught for the senses
There are some moments which are almost filmed in first person, which just added to this feeling.
I could swear that I felt cold during the scenes on the mountain and I was sweating whilst watching the scenes in the jungle.
There were also specific moments where I was left thinking, ‘How on Earth did they pull that off?’ It looked genuinely impossible and properly dangerous to get some of the shots they did.
You can’t talk about Monos without mentioning the performances. Everybody in this movie is captivating, from Julianne Nicholson as Doctora to Moisés Arias as the member of Monos known as Bigfoot.
They’re all brilliant, but it has to be pointed out how incredible each and every actor is playing the Monos. Some people may recognise Arias from Disney’s Hannah Montanna TV series and The Kings Of Summer, but apart from him, all the other actors are basically unknowns and they deliver some of the best performances I have ever seen.
Sofia Buenaventura as Rambo was a particular highlight for me as her performance has me blubbering like a baby.
It would be my vote for Best Film at the Oscars… if I had a vote
Read more: Blinded By The Light Review
I hate saying things like, ‘This is the best movie I’ve ever seen,’ because that sort of thing is unquantifiable and just ends up sounding a bit childish, but with Monos, I have to say that it’s the best film I’ve seen this year.
It would get my vote for the Best Film award at the Oscars if I had any say in the matter, but I don’t, and I’m sure it’ll end up getting overlooked.
Simply put, Monos is a masterful piece of cinema. It’s brutal, bloody, violent, horrific, and tragic, but also beautiful, awe-inspiring, and it feels very real.
As I mentioned before, you really feel like you’re there with the Monos on that cloudy hilltop and deep in the Columbian jungle, and it’s a film that has to be seen on the big screen.
If there’s one film you watch this year at the cinema, it has to be Monos.
It’s the film of the year. There, I said it again.
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