If Guillermo del Toro called a movie “mesmerizing” and its director “a powerful new voice in cinema,” you’d want to see that movie, right? The Oscar-winning Mexican director had nothing but praise for “Monos,” the latest feature from Colombian filmmaker Alejandro Landes. The film won a Special Jury Award for its Sundance Film Festival premiere before going on to play the Berlinale and MoMA’s New Directors/New Films. Featuring a score from Oscar-nominated composer Mica Levi, only her fourth since “Under the Skin” and “Jackie.”
Per the official synopsis: “Alejandro Landes’ awe-inspiring third feature is a breathtaking survivalist saga set on a remote mountain in Latin America. The film tracks a young group of soldiers and rebels — bearing names like Rambo, Smurf, Bigfoot, Wolf and Boom-Boom — who keep watch over an American hostage, Doctora (Julianne Nicholson). With a rapturous score by Mica Levi, director Alejandro Landes examines the chaos and absurdity of war from the unique perspective of adolescence, recalling ‘Lord of the Flies’ and ‘Beau Travail’ in a way that feels wholly original. Landes brings together a diverse young cast of both seasoned professionals and untrained neophytes and thrusts them into an unforgiving, irrational and often surreal environment where anything can happen — even peace.”
In his rapturous review out of Sundance, IndieWire’s own Eric Kohn wrote: “While ‘Monos’ crafts an involving atmosphere of anarchy and dread in its first half, it catapults to new heights of suspense as its characters contend with the elements. … Landes ratchets the tension with a series of violent showdowns as Levi’s operatic score takes off. However, even these more dramatic exchanges leave room for pregnant pauses, with the camera drifting through jungle scenery long after the devastation has concluded, as if only nature has the armor to survive such pointless warfare.”
Of the non-neophyte actors in “Monos,” Julianne Nicholson is most recently known for her role as Tonya Harding skate coach Diane Rawlinson in the 2017 Oscar winner “I, Tonya.” The movie also stars Colombian-American actor Moisés Arias, who came up on the Disney Channel’s “Hannah Montana.”
Neon and Participant Media will release “Monos” in theaters on September 13. Check out the evocative trailer below.