Monos. 2018. Colombia/Argentina/Netherlands/Germany/Sweden/Uruguay. Directed by Alejandro Landes. Screenplay by Landes, Alexis Dos Santos. With Moises Arias, Sofia Buenaventura, Julianne Nicholson. In English, Spanish; English subtitles. 102 min.
Monos, which won a Special Jury Award at Sundance, is sure to be one of the most hotly debated films of 2019; one critic called it “Apocalypse Now on shrooms.” In Alejandro Landes’s intensely thrilling twist on Lord of the Flies, Julianne Nicholson plays a terrorized American engineer held captive by teenage guerilla bandits in an unnamed South American jungle. Leaderless and rootless, the child soldiers puff themselves up with names like Rambo, Smurf, and Bigfoot (the latter a brutal Moises Arias), and survive the tedium and predation of the wilderness through sexual games and cult-like rituals. As they wage physical and psychological warfare on perceived enemies—and, inevitably, among themselves—they are reduced to a state of desperate barbarism. The film’s sense of surreal menace is amplified by Mica Levi’s discordant soundscape and Jasper Wolf’s cinematography. Courtesy NEON.