Monos deserves all the praise it’s received. This is a film with stunning cinematography, riveting acting, and captivating themes. Directed by Alejandro Landes, Monos follows a group of child soldiers as they juggle their emerging adolescence with the strict rigidity of military life. These two elements clash for the inciting incident, when the group’s cow, Shakira (not played by the singer. I, too, was disappointed) is accidentally killed during a drunk misfire.
Conflict, hierarchies, and distrust plague the group throughout their journey. While characters such as Lobo (Julian Giraldo) and Patagrande (Moises Arias) are dominating figures on the screen, it is characters such as Rambo (Sofia Buenaventura) that immerse the audience in the story. Rambo’s small moments of kindness and humanity (ironic, considering the name) allow the audience to engage with this group of wild children. It is worth mentioning that only two actors are internationally known, Moises Arias (Rico from Hannah Montana) and Julianne Nicholson. Despite this, the cast performed incredibly, displaying the gritty reality of child soldiers dealing with internal and external pressures.
The group is tasked with the imprisonment of Doctora Sara Watson (Julianne Nicholson). While some scenes with the group are entrancing and surreal, Doctora (and to an extent, the audience) sees through this mirage into what is actually occurring. While we sit captivated as the children dance and chant around the bonfire, drunkenly firing weapons into the air, the character of Doctora allows us to step back and realize that this freedom is rather a lack of control. In an environment run by children, there is no guidance.
I’d like to reserve special praise for Jasper Wolf, the director of photography of this film. From shots detailing the groups station on a mountaintop, to them hiding from a helicopter in the jungle, and swimming in a deep pool, Wolf makes the film the masterpiece it is. There were several moments in the film to which I had to shake my head in awe of its beauty. Special mention must also go to Moises Arias for his fantastic performance. Arias captures the tumultuous essence of adolescence and expertly portrays the pressures placed on child soldiers. To be able to provide the audience with such depth deserves commendation.
Monos shows quality from every angle and more (I haven’t even mentioned the music). To view it is to immerse yourself within a brilliantly constructed world. Monos deserves a watch. And then a re-watch. And then another one.