Finally arriving in UK cinemas is one of the standout films of this years festival circuit ‘Monos’(2019). The second fiction feature from Brazilian writer and director Alejandro Landes, it follows a teenage militia on a Colombian mountaintop who are ordered to oversee a hostage. Going in to this adrenaline filled cinematic wonder you don’t need to know much more than that. With comparisons to the likes of ‘Lord of the Flies’(1990) and ‘Apocalypse Now’(1979), the imagination is sent into overdrive long before the film begins.
Landes creates a visually striking, dystopian Neverland high above the clouds where time stands still. As this group of guerrilla fighting Lost Boys(and girls) take part in training exercises and follow out orders sent from the allusive ‘Organisation’. The narrative is compact and focused, letting the director truly play the role of the puppeteer steering the audience through this world drip-feeding only the essential information. The ensemble cast is fantastic, with a particularly standout performance from Moises Arias as ‘Bigfoot’ the directionless, unhinged leader. Each relationship is weaved with its own unique dynamics and depth, succeeding to captivate through these characters and a narrative that although extreme, could easily exist today. However as thrilling as the Militia are above the clouds, it is the mystery of what’s beneath them that demands your focus.
If there was ever an argument necessary for the necessity of shooting on location, then ‘Monos’ is just that. Clearly shot by a director who knows the landscape, Landes uses every aspect of this Colombian mountaintop and dense jungle to tell this absorbing story. Both locations are used to their full advantage adding to the chaotic mystery surrounding the group, showing the natural beauty they are surrounded by and also emphasising their place right on the fringes of society.
Complimented by a wonderful score that is used minimally but beautifully it enhances the visuals and moulds with the sounds of the elements to bring a bizarre, hallucinatory warmth and fear all at once. Although the visuals are a triumph this isn’t at the expense of the film’s thrills but together they make ‘Monos’ a must see cinematic experience.
Alejandro Landes is an exceptional new filmmaker deserving of the platform that this film has gifted him. He has created a very personal film that tackles a range of topics, challenging the audience politically and socially through his allegorical narrative. Comparisons to films such as ‘Apocalypse Now’ are not a stretch by any means, as its examination of ‘warfare’ speaks volumes of how it functions across the globe today. What are they fighting for? Who are they fighting? It is in his raising of these questions that Landes has produced the ultimate war film of our time.
Written by Conor Crooks
STAR RATING –★★★★★
Question: What is your all time favourite war film?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
Thanks for reading this review and please let us know what you thought about the movie! Leave a comment below or drop us a tweet over at @HCMovieReviews.