Monsters and Men – Review Haiku

Written by Reinaldo Marcus Green
Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green

SYNOPSIS

Waves of consequences ripple through a New York City neighborhood when an unarmed black man is shot and killed by a white police officer.

HAIKU REVIEW

Has a Lot to Say;
From Various Perspectives;
Timely and Honest.

GRADE

B+

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS

For something so ripped-from-the-headlines, I can’t believe this doesn’t have more buzz behind it. Sure, it may not have the star power of BlacKkKlansman, the flare of Blindspotting or the edge of Sorry to Bother You, but here we have another film touching on the white-hot issue of race in America, but where it lacks in other areas it makes up for in raw truth. It is a film about community, large or small, those that we are born into or choose to inhabit, and how tragedy helps us find our place within that community. Green, in his debut feature, has done a very admirable job painting a very real picture that doesnt trade integrity for shock value and never cheapens the kind of stories it is based around. The climate is comes from is a very real one, and his script gives us characters that reflect such, with clear motivations and space for growth. He employs no visual tricks, with the camera feeling like a fly on the wall in a tense situation where tempers can flare at any moment if the characters aren’t careful enough. The story is told from the perspective of three different characters who each play a role in the community where the shooting takes place. The way they come together to flow into the next perspective on the story is inventive and thought-provoking, really tying everything back to the central theme of community. I have seen critiques that the narrative can be unfocused, but it didn’t strike me that way. There is a lot going on off-screen, and while a certain character’s story may not “finish” in front of your eyes, it is still there, part of the background noise that is often lost in discussions revolving around these issues. Their stories can remain untold because we know these issues aren’t over with, and just as there is more history to yet be written, the same is true of their personal journeys. Perspective is key, and when the opening scene shows a black off-duty officer pulled over by one of his white counterparts, his nerves tell us we are in for something grounded and real. It walks the line between hopeless and hopeful, asking us to consider every angle, every problem, every possible solution. It all depends on your perspective.

Everything is on point here. The writing, directing, acting and editing are all very good. The score is sparse, never feeling the need to overcompensate for a quiet, contemplative moment. Everyone involved seemed up to the task of producing something memorable, something that could seem so familiar yet fresh, so palpable to some and so alien to others. This is a powerful movie that will not find a large enough audience to do it justice, but I highly recommend checking it out if a nearby theater is running it, as you may not see a more timely piece this year.

 


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