4th October 2019 9.00pm at Vue West End
5th October 2019 12.15pm at Vue West End
In an environment far, far away from any westernised form of society, eight youths, trained as deadly militia, lie in wait for orders from their commanding officers and anticipate the arrival of the rebel warfare they have become embroiled in. Despite being only teenagers, the Monos troop have grown to appreciate and embrace the liberal lives of savages, bearing few responsibilities of their own aside from following the rules, milking a cow and maintaining the wellbeing and imprisonment of their hostage Doctora Sara Watson (Julianne Nicholson). When disaster strikes, the clan move deeper into the forest and begin abandoning their directives. A dog-eat-dog tribal hierarchy emerges, leading to the punishment of those who fall out of line.
Monos possesses striking resemblances to the youth-orientated savagery described in William Golding’s 1954 novel Lord of the Flies, with elements of Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter sprinkled in for good measure. The dysfunctional society the teenagers have built for themselves is ruthless, brutal and cold-hearted, with the death of a soldier meaning little more to them than a change in ranks and sexual partner.
The film is graphic, but it is still restrained in its approach to physical combat within the military unit, focusing more on the developing relationships and changing morality of characters such as Rambo (Sofia Buenaventura) and Smurf (Deiby Rueda), alongside Bigfoot’s (Moisés Arias) steady descent into bloodlust. There are some excellent performances from the young cast – making the children’s uncouth nature all the more disturbing to witness – along with a more mature portrayal from Nicholson, the only adult to feature in the majority of the movie. Her desperate struggle for freedom is incredibly moving and the audience wills her on all the more as the picture progresses and more of her background is uncovered.
Given that Monos is only director Alejandro Landes’s second feature film, he must be commended for his bravery and ambition in taking on the demanding task of bringing this abstract script to life in an ingenious yet engaging and understandable way. It can be easy for audiences to feel detached from the action when the subject matter becomes too distant from a comprehensible reality, but the screenplay and the excellent visual approach, with its vast, awe-inspiring landscape shots, brings the harsh setting to life brilliantly.
There are moments in this movie that feel almost too close to Lord of the Flies – most notably a scene that involved the inclusion of a severed pig’s head – but all in all Monos is a thrilling watch from start to finish, with its ensemble driving the narrative through to fruition at an unrelenting pace.
Monos is released in select cinemas on 25th October 2019.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Monos here: