‘On a faraway mountaintop, eight kids with guns watch over a hostage and a conscripted milk cow.’ That’s the plot outline on IMDb, and while it’s spot on, Monos is a deep and personal look into a very real threat children in Columbia live with. ‘Mono’ in Spanish is used to refer to a monkey, to a human figure drawn on a paper, to a male toy figurine and to a male with fair skin and light hair. It’s also used to describe something cute.
Monos is a breathtakingly gorgeous film. The cinematography will have you utterly mesmerised by its genuine beauty. That’s then perfectly married up with a haunting score from Under The Skin composer, Mica Levi. The feeling was one of a Kubrick film of the future. Honestly, the score is sublime and 100% Oscar-worthy.
Brazilian writer/director, Alejandro Landes has made 2 previous films. One is a documentary back in 2007, and his first feature in 2011. So he has been taking his time with his 2nd feature film. When the opening credits start rolling I was almost transported back to the first time I saw City of God. It just had that essence about it. Monos is really like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and for the most part, no answers are given.
While the film feels completely rooted in its South American heritage, it also feels like it could be of another world, another futuristic post apocalyptic time. On top of the mountain, it feels like a civilisation hidden by the clouds. Like some mushroom induced Jack and The Bean Stalk fable. It’s Lord of the Flies, where military grade weapons and hallucinogens go hand in hand. It’s a story of The Lost Boys of Neverland where Peter Pan is nowhere in sight, probably taken prisoner by another guerrilla group.
Monos is most definitely no easy ride, but it’s absolutely one of the best of year, and one I will be taking again for sure.