- Gareth Crook
I’m not sure how to begin with Monos. Thrown in at the deep end, we’re introduced to a wild cast of 8 young adults, their older commander and a woman held hostage. It’s an isolated society on a remote Colombian mountain top at high blustery altitude. Almost animalistic behaviour, wrapped in the formalities of a military doctrine and a deep family bond. What’s brought them here is unclear, why they’ve a hostage even more so. Despite the chaos, everything appears balanced. That is until a cow that they’ve been loaned to give them milk gets accidentally shot in a moment of revelry. This marks a sizemic shift, as the soundtrack rumbles with menacing percussion. A harsh environment gets more fraught as bonds are tested and torn. The unusual community is now only part of the story, a fraction of the wider picture that slowly reveals a guerrilla war and explains much of the behaviour. The bleak wilderness of the desolate mountain makes way for the rivers and dense Columbian rainforest, it’s a stark contrast, beautiful even, but the darkness in the characters only deepens as the brutality intensifies. It’s menacing and primal, as the young renegade soldiers, defy commands and commanders, taking their mission in directions of their own choosing, enforcing justice by their own fractious guidelines. It’s tense. Often near impossible to watch as the heat of the jungle sticks to your skin. This is only amplified by an odd segue of domesticity that simply serves to heighten the decent and breakdown of humanity. It is, of course utterly brilliant. Masterfully shot and exquisitely crafted, with some of the best cinematography I’ve seen in some time. A stark portrayal that’ll stay with me got some time.