The clouds roll in under the summit of a mountain somewhere in Latin America. The foreboding landscape home to a group of teenagers named Boom Boom, Rambo, Dog, Smurf, Lady, Swede, Bigfoot and Wolf. All of whom are being schooled in the art of combat by a short mysterious muscular man. After training has ceased the man introduces the teenagers to a gift in the form a milking cow. The pint sized soldiers under strict instruction to take care of the cow at all costs. It’s milk a wonderful source of vitamins and nutrients.
However, the cow isn’t the only captive of the young group. Hidden in the caves is Docutra (Julianne Nicholson). An American women who is trotted out to read news in front of a camera. While occasionally offering tenderness to the child soldiers as a captive quasi mother figure. As the hormonal teens are kept in line by the occasional visit from the short muscular man, and radio contact with ‘The Organisation’ who control them.
So starts Alejandro Landes beautiful yet haunting tail of young people left to their own devices. The teenagers lives controlled from a distance yet equally uncontrollable. While hormones, guns, livestock and captives mix on a dew soaked mountain top as the groups fragile structure is tested.
One part Lord of the Flies and one part Apocalypse Now. Landes creates a dream like atmosphere. While equally never allowing a clear view of the reason for the young soldiers mission. Consequently some may frustration in the narrative that follows, as no simple answers are provided. However, ultimately Monos is a study of peer influence, tribal belonging and adult indifference. In a group where a captive adult is the only real positive adult influence. And even this influence is tied to her longing to escape the group at any cost. Ultimately leading to teenagers only have themselves for guidance, support, and growth. Their group culture and practices at odds with the hidden cities they are no longer a part of. While the actions of the group slowly spiral into tribal belonging.