Starring Sofia Buenaventura, Moises Arias, Julian Giraldo, Karen Quintero, Laura Castrillón, Deiby Rueda, Paul Cubides, Sneider Castro, Wilson Salazar, and Julianne Nicholson
Written by Alejandro Landes and Alexis Dos Santos
Directed by Alejandro Landes
Rated: 14A for violence, substance use, and sexual content
Runtime: 102 minutes
Now playing at the Princess Theatre, 10337 82 Ave. in Edmonton.
Monos is one of those rare and unexpected cinematic treats that you don’t really want to end. You come to know the characters and enjoy them so much, even though much of how they live is far from being a walk in the park despite having a scenic vista. This is a story that screams for viewing from a seat at the movie theatre. It screams for repeat screenings, too.
The story is set somewhere in remote Central America where a group of young people are living by themselves. The film starts with them playing a game of football in the field, all wearing blindfolds. It’s only after the messenger arrives that we learn about how they have become militarized as a small faction of something called The Organization. They take part in rigorous training exercises and live under strict rule. They have automatic weapons and they have a hostage.
This is a film about family and survival. It has elements of Lord of the Flies though it is less about isolation and internal politics than it is about finding your way in a confusing world of conflicting pressures. I'd liken it more to Where the Wild Things Are, but with violence.
At times, watching Monos makes you want to be one of the gang even with all of their hardships. It's a film of high adventure and heightened drama – a family thriller perhaps – set in one of the most scenic settings of the world. It makes you wonder how any of us survive.
The film won the Special Jury Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and also features some excellent performances by a talented and youthful cast and astonishing cinematography by Jasper Wolf plus a marvelous and hypnotic score by Mica Levi. I highly recommend it.