Monos: Film Review

Monos has been selected as Colombia’s entry for the Best International Feature Film Oscar and it recently won Best Film at the London Film Festival so my expectations were high. Thankfully it didn’t disappoint.

Monos follows eight teenagers with guns who work for “the organisation” and live on a mountaintop keeping guard of their American hostage, who is nicknamed Doctora (Julianne Nicholson). The mission seems to be going relatively smoothly until their milk cow is shot, a death occurs, and their location is discovered.

I had seen it likened to The Lord of the Flies and that’s pretty accurate – it’s about a group of youngsters who turn wild when left to their own devices in the wilderness. I had been bracing myself for brutal gruesome violence but thankfully there wasn’t any. If you’re expecting a depressing, depraved movie, I can assure you this isn’t the case. It’s unsettling and thought-provoking and there’s plenty of tension and dread but it’s not gory or particularly bloody.

I always like it when films indulge my desire for lots of context and information so I would have liked to know more about the organisation and why Doctora was being held hostage. This lack of information didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the film, but answers would have been more satisfying. Equally, I would have appreciated an extra five to ten minutes to give me a solid conclusion as I have plenty of questions.

Monos takes its sweet time getting going. I wasn’t truly involved in the story when it was based on the mountaintop – even though it looked visually stunning – and I had a hard time learning who was who but it really hits its stride once they move to the jungle and Bigfoot (Moises Arias) is made squad leader. The stakes really level up at this point and it is gripping stuff. The sound design really drives this home – my heart was pounding at certain moments!

Arias was the star of the show. I was a Hannah Montana fan growing up and loved his recent heartwarming performance in Five Feet Apart so it was particularly disconcerting to watch him play this menacing leader. He was scary because you never knew what he was going to do next. The other standouts in the eight were Sofia Buenaventura as Rambo, the most vulnerable and emotional of the bunch, and Karen Quintero as the captivating Lady. Nicholson gets more to do as the film continues and is put through the wringer. Another impressive performance from her.

There is a reason why Monos has been winning all these accolades – because it is unique, gripping, and thrilling. I urge you to check it out.

In cinemas from Friday 25th October 

Rating: 4/5

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