Monsters and Men
dir-scr Reinaldo Marcus Green
prd Luca Borghese, Julia Lebedev, Josh Penn, Elizabeth Lodge, Eddie Vaisman
with John David Washington, Anthony Ramos, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Chante Adams, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Cara Buono, Rob Morgan, Nicole Beharie, Cassandra Freeman, Josiah Gabriel, Giuseppe Ardizzone, JW Cortes
release US 28.Sep.18, UK 11.Jan.18
18/US 1h36
Monsters and Men
One-way glass: Ramos and Washington

harrison buono beharie
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Monsters and Men Raising big questions without offering simplistic answers, this drama explores the issue of police racism in America through three distinct perspectives. It's a gripping movie, even if its open-ended plotting might be unsatisfying from a narrative angle. But the film's approach is sensitive and honest, and it leaves the audience with a lot to think about.

In Brooklyn, Manny (Ramos) witnesses an altercation between six white police officers and an unarmed black man outside a corner shop. He films the event on his phone, including the moment a policeman fires a fatal shot. When Manny releases the tape, the police find a way to arrest him. But one officer, Dennis (Washington), is having second thoughts about this, especially when he witnesses two colleagues regularly harassing black people in the neighbourhood, including teen basketball star Zyric (Harrison), who decides he has to take a stand.

Writer-director Green creates superb characters with complex internal lives. Each of these three men has a dilemma, knowing the significantly cost of doing the right thing. The film throws the audience right into these decisions, weighing the issue in ways that go far beneath the usual headlines. The script builds meaningful characters and situations, then leaves ideas floating without resolving the plot. This is great for generating debate,even if it means that this is an arthouse film.

Each performance is involving. Washington is excellent as a cop trapped between his fellow officers, his community and his race. His conundrum is the most difficult, and it's played with gritty power. Harrison has a strongly sympathetic role as a thoughtful teen whose bright future could be jeopardised if he takes a stand, while the likeable Ramos is simply a well-meaning young man caught in a vile injustice. The characters around them ring true as well, bringing layers of meaning into the story.

Where these people end up is left to the imagination, although their decisions offer hints about what might happen. The question is whether we are willing to speak up against evil we witness. How would saying something affect our lives? How does remaining silent exacerbate the problem? Green's point is that this is something each person must decide on his or her own, depending on the importance truth and justice play in their lives. In this sense, Green is bold not to tell the audience what to think. So the film properly sets our hearts and minds spinning.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 25.Oct.18

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