Original Title: Monos
English Title: Monos
Rating: 5.5/7 Samurai
As Monos starts we are introduced to a group of eight kids in their early teens living on the top of a mountain in Colombia, then we meet their “commander” who arrives in the camp and puts them through a series of military exercises; calisthenics, target practice, inspection, all of which is disturbing, not because he is hurting them, but because kids this age shouldn’t be going through it. Monos is meant to be an unsettling movie though, as we watch child soldiers entrusted with responsibilities far beyond their age, struggle with being what they actually are, scared teenagers.
Their main responsibilities are to watch over an American hostage, an engineer known for most of the movie as just, “Doctora,” and take care of dairy a cow they’ve been given. Of course, once the commander leaves them on their own the group hook-up and party just as you would expect them too, and for a short time, it all looks like a lot of fun. Soon, the film takes a tragic turn and from there on out things get pretty intense. The group is obviously out of their depth, none of them are emotionally equipped to handle the pressure they are put under, and they each deal with that pressure in their own way. Whether it’s fake bravado and overconfidence or just trying to escape, the group discovers how their actions have consequences, often tragic ones.
The authentic Colombian locations, that are at some times visually breathtaking and others stifling as you feel encompassing nature of a hot and humid jungle, feel like they are part of an entirely different world. Combined with an excellent score that is extremely minimal and adds a haunting layer to the film, you get an eerie feeling that even while the kids are alive you are watching a ghost story.
At point the movie does begin to feel slightly repetitive, towards the end of the movie there are a number of attempted escapes by different characters, each attempt is fairly similar and begins to feel like déjà vu. Also, the development of the Doctora character is a small stumbling point, we are aware of her presence but aside from one scene there is very little done to show us who she is until near the end of the movie, which she features heavily in. Thankfully since so much of the movie is about the kids and the overall atmosphere these plot flaws don’t distract much from the whole film.
Monos puts a human face on the conflict in Colombia and the people involved in it, that has been missing for a long time. By putting the viewer into this world populated by children, who’s wrong or right doesn’t matter, who’s side these kids are on is inconsequential because the fact that they are being put in the situation, to begin with, is wrong.
Dr. Pepper Guarantee: This movie is not for everyone, but if you like a hint of surreal in your drama and don’t dig this one, there’s a 16 oz Dr. Pepper heading your way.
Subs & Dubs: This is only available with subtitles, and you be a real asshole if wanted to watch it dubbed.
Where to watch: Monos is available for digital rental wherever you rent digitally.