電影《失控少年兵團》影評：[Film Review] Monos (2019) 7.5/10失控少年兵團影評
MONOS unfolds with a spatiotemporal otherworldliness that is both riveting and disquieting, ensconced in a Colombian mountaintop festooned with sublime and mutable cloudscape and thick morning fogs, a cadre of eight teen soldiers is charged the mission of watching over an American hostage, Sara Watson (Nicholson), to whom they simply refers to as 「Doctora」, after being drilled by the Messenger (a diminutive Salazar, himself a former FARC child soldier).
The underage soldiers are named 「monos」, Spanish for 「monkeys」, initially the group is led by Wolf (Giraldo), who obtains the permission to enter a romantic relationship with Lady (Quinero) and a celebration ensues where campfire and rollicking fun ablaze almost like a mirage in the night, also member Rambo (Buenaventura) receives a 「punitive」 rite of passage on his 15th birthday, here, director Alejandro Landes consciously blurs his gender, while the subtitle uses the masculine pronoun, Rambo is indeed played by a gamine, rangy girl, and along the line, he becomes the nearest candidate as the film’s protagonist in the slow disintegration of the group, which all starts with the unfortunate demise of a cow named Shakira, the victim of friendly fire’s potshot.
Corralling an ensemble mostly of inexperienced teenagers, Landes and his co-scenarist freshen each guerrilla member with distinctive traits: an immature but mercurial Swede (Castrillón), a biddable and innocuous Smurf (Rueda), Dog (Cubides) is a primitive bozo, Boom Boom (Castro), a four-square sidekick and Lady is mature enough to get an upper hand with her sexuality, but the most dangerous one, is the recalcitrant, feral, backstabbing Bigfoot (a dreadlocks-sporting Arias, over-confident, browbeating, insidious but also consistently and entrancingly inscrutable), who is ripe for leadership but cannot brook any naysayer.
Amongst the tight-regulated group, it is not different to understand why Rambo is the chosen one with whom audience can identify, when the second half swerves to a trek in the tropical jungle, where more familiar set pieces take place (an escape attempt goes nowhere, and no good things can emerge after squealing under duress), he becomes a conscientious deserter under Bigfoot’s high-handed cruelty and rebellion. However, Landes seems to lose some of his mojo when the narrative closes in to the finish line, he gives up envisaging a proper denouement to all those characters with whom we are emotionally invested since the off, leaving things up in the air (both literally and otherwise) is a cop-out, if not a complete letdown.
Nicholson’s Doctora sticks like a sore thumb among impressionable saplings, hapless, desperate, her presence and nationality alone invites to be construed as a metaphor of the bitter correlation between the United States and the Third World in the South America, but a bushwhacking, mud-caked Nicholson braves the adversity and stereotype with true grits, and perceptibly registers a steely determination of saving her own skin, but not without an ambivalence about her chosen method driven by her primeval, instinctive self-preservation.
Economizing the larger picture of the ongoing war conflicts in the milieu, MONOS starts out as an Ibero-American version of LORD OF THE FLIES, examining the internal dynamism of its susceptible guinea pigs under unusual circumstances, but in the end, what predominantly marvels us is its spectacular sallies on our sensorium: the awe-inspiring locality and its sublime hues, the subaqueous pellucidity of its camera work, and Mica Levi’s sparse but unheimlich score, where human frailties and complexity brim in the beguiling microcosm of a young country’s growing pains.
referential entries: Carlos Reygadas’s JAPóN (2002, 7.2/10); Kleber Mendon?a Filho, Juliano Dornelles’s BACURAU (2019, 7.3/10).