Before Berlinale’s European premiere of Monos, director Alejandro Landes sweetly affirmed his belief that film holds “the power of dreams. You can’t control it.” In his pulsating survivalist drama we track militant group “Monos” as they most certainly descend out of control. The unit is composed of eight teenagers and young adults, suspended together in the Andes. They are tasked with the mission of guarding Doctora, a prisoner of their guerilla war. Many things remain unclear: who the order-giving “The Organization” are, how long Monos have been there and why their detainee has been captured. These uncertainties thrust the examination of instinctual humanity and raw emotionality to the forefront.
The natural world is alive in Landes’s thriller tale. The land breathes with its misty air and creates the highly atmospheric backdrop for the outfit’s days of stringent routine filled with military drills and the chaotic but contained nights of release. The lush landscape is captured magnificently by Jasper Wolf’s cinematography. He seamlessly evokes both the verdant tropical Andes rich with colour and its ominous and haunting capacity for danger.
The soundtrack is ablaze with energy. The feature snarls with youths always on the precipice of death and violence. Yet, as we progress with them, the group begins to evaporate into the wild. Though it’s not clear how they came to be the Monos, it’s clear that not only their hostage is desperate to escape. Always flirting on the precipice of turmoil, the power structure breaks down. They descend to misrule.
Landes couples the violence of man and nature, exposing the destructive tenacity of both. Monos surges with aggressive and sexual currents which complicate the subjects’ cliffside existence. There are strict rules in place and we witness the consequences when they are broken. As they live suspended in space up in the mountains they equally feel outside of time, allowing the film to transcend history as a gripping and timeless tale of human nature.
Monos does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch a clip of Monos here: