The lack of a 360° viewpoint doesn’t, per say, make Monsters And Men a worse film, but it stops it from seeming quite so knowledgeable
Split into three clear sections, Monsters And Men has a message of paramount importance, with multiple meanings and interpretations bringing its modern day drama to life. The ambiguous nature of the on screen events is often vital to this message being delivered completely and correctly, but occasionally causes the film to lose some weight to its heavy blows.
Set in New York 2018, Monsters And Men tracks the lives of three young men reeling from the death of a black man at the hands of a police officer. With everyone maintaining their own views on the event, the film focuses on those with important roles to play: Manny (Anthony Ramos), a friend who caught the event on camera; Dennis (John David Washington), a black police officer conflicted between his admiration for the force and his condemnation of those who misuse their power; and Zyrick (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a young baseball star changed by the event, harrowed the way he is treated as a black man on the streets of New York.
Written and Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, his debut feature length film, Monsters And Men is a film with a deep understanding of the racial tension found in even America’s most liberal cities. Green has managed to divide the issue into three impressive story types, working as an anthology to gain a larger picture of the severe wrongdoing that still remain to this day. The flow of the narrative is particularly refreshing, with well built-in connecting moments that impress an air of knowledge and understanding.
However, Monsters and Men is perhaps one step away from being the great film it could be. The most intriguing character, John David Washington’s Dennis, becomes fascinating for his moral ambiguity and his difficulty in choosing between the two sides of his life and his personality. The other stories run with a much more linear nature, meaning there is less of a question of morals and a greater sense of ‘making a point’, especially for the first act focusing on Anthony Ramos’ Manny.
This lack of a 360° viewpoint doesn’t, per say, make Monsters And Men a worse film, but it stops it from seeming quite so socially conscious. The moral/immoral nature of the story is integral to its quality, and there needed to be more of that for the full impact to land.
Yet still as a piece of modern and important film making, Green’s Monsters And Men is fascinatingly told with real affecting viewpoints and a strong sense of character. There is an image and a vision behind the film that comes out very strongly and very clearly.
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