22nd Jan2019

‘Monsters and Men’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: John David Washington, Anthony Ramos, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Chanté Adams, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Nicole Beharie, Rob Morgan, Cara Buono, Grant Jaeger, Josiah Gabriel, Emilia Allen, Brian Pollock, Joe Tippett, J.W. Cortes, Giuseppe Ardizzone | Written and Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green


Monsters and Men tells a ripple-effect narrative: from an eye-witness (Ramos) who captures a shooting on his phone, an African-American police officer (Washington) battling with his conscience to stand up against his fellow officers, to a local high school student (Harrison Jr) who transforms from passive bystander to vehement activist. With fluid cinematography that’s alert and expressive, the film explores the ramifications of such an event in a terrifying and poetic way.

Director Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Monsters and Men is a contextually subtle yet conceptually shrewd and powerful character piece. Detailing the haunting turmoil and fallout of traumatising moment of police brutality in three characters’ lives in a connected story on both sides of the yellow tape. Reinaldo Marcus Green crafts a deeply emotional and devastatingly brutal depiction of traumatic and eerie material that has a dark and poignant underbelly of thought-provoking honesty.

Separated into an anthology of sorts yet constructed in one connected narrative. Writer and director Reinaldo Marcus Green’s decision to utilise a three-character set up in each individual act creates a sense of deeply effective and aligned character depth that ultimately feels both a natural depiction of growth and emotionally progressive in the humanoid action of grief. The three central leads, while unfortunately all male with the female performances side-lined to supporting characters with little to no depth, put forward a terrific display of the repercussions of their surroundings and implications of the central harrowing event. Of which is depicted with grace and intensity. Reminiscent of the often quiet and empty fickle response from the world.

John David Washington coming off a rather spectacular breakout year is undoubtedly the highlight of the film. Once again donning the blue attire of a police officer after BlacKkKlansman and The Old Man & the Gun. One hopes this not the beginning of a typecast career. Washington’s’ performance personifies a character fighting on both sides of this disturbing and ongoing battle between race and duty. His performance resonates deeply in compelling writing from Marcus Green. The indecision and emotional turmoil of having to pick a side in blurred surroundings is thought-provoking and saddening. Personified in a subdued albeit radiant manner of small physical detail resulting in a mighty resonating screen presence.

Monsters and Men is in UK cinemas now.


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