Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon
Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon starts off at a Louisiana mental ward, with a bitter, indifferent nurse trying to trim a patient’s toenails.
The patient in question is Mona Lisa Lee (Jeon Jong-seo), and, even though she appears catatonic at first, laced up in a straitjacket and drooling, she manages to free herself by using mind control on the hospital staff. The young Korean sets off for New Orleans, where she first attempts to steal food at a convenience store, then succeeds in nicking clothing off a petty criminal, who decides to help her out. After witnessing Mona Lisa’s telepathic powers, erotic dancer Bonnie (Kate Hudson) decides to take the lost soul under her wing, and the two women start roaming the streets together deploying a money-making scheme.
Seven years after her debut feature A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, director Ana Lily Amirpour takes audiences for another ride into the unexpected. What may at first look like a fantastical spin on 2019’s Hustlers is in fact a quirky feature with many a twist and turn. “Stripper with a heart of gold” trope? Think again. Bonnie’s son, jealous that his mother’s attention is directed at everything but him, is never the heroine’s adversary. The group of thugs hanging outside the open-late-shop? Not ill-disposed towards the scantily clad escapee!
Both Jong-seo and Hudson expertly navigate the fine line between treating their characters sympathetically and staying true to the film’s funky tone. The comedic highlight is undoubtedly Ed Skrein’s portrayal of the DJ/small-time-crook Fuzz, who falls under Mona Lisa’s spell in more ways than one.
Most prominent in one’s mind after seeing Mona Lisa are the pervasive images by cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski, himself no stranger to left-of-field films, having acted as DOP for the similarly mind-bending Hereditary and Midsommar.
Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.