Monos is the best movie I have seen at this year’s Chicago Critics Film Festival. A Lord of the Flies-esque crime drama that shows the horror of war through the eyes of teenagers.
On a mountaintop that carries above the clouds in South America, eight teenagers, all wielding semi-automatics, watch over a prisoner of war. When their camp gets ambushed and they are forced to move to the jungle, the bond between the teenagers is fractured and their mission begins to collapse.
Director Alejandro Landes directed the hell of this movie, giving us a movie that looks at teenagers trying to grow up while living in a war torn world where they are forced to be more responsible than most teens and are exposed to weapons, militarization, and death. The teenagers at hand, most of whom are played by non-actors and all of whom are great, are at a time in their life when they want to experience the most. They want to experience with sex and drugs, they want to have fun with their friends and learn about the world, yet they are responsible for POW’s and defending their territory with guns, bombs, and machetes. Landes shows us both sides of these teens, showing moments when they are victims of a war-torn country, yet showing them playing in the water and having a drink by the campfire. This paints a tragic portrait of the world these teens live in and makes us feel for them, even when they are performing horrible acts of war.
What starts as a war-torn coming of age story turns into a crime film in the jungle, as we start to see the teens begin to think for themselves and begin to change the way their mission is run. Backstabbing, narcing, a takeover all take place in this jungle. Some of the kids have been manipulated by the propaganda of their leader and some begin to think for themselves and start to believe something different from what they have been told. Though there are eight teenagers in the film, we get to know them every single one of them. We know all of their stories, along with the POW, which keeps us on an emotional edge the entire film, awaiting to see the fates of our characters in this hostile environment.
Monos is a captivating thriller from start to finish. It is easily the best movie I have seen at this year’s Chicago Critics Film Festival and one of the best movies I have seen all year.
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