Thursday, November 23, 2023

Monster (2023)

If you mention Hirokazu Kore-eda to most people they would have no idea who he is. Most film people I know are up and down with his films because he refuses to make one sort of film. Yes he makes dramas, but he'll twist things so that they aren't your typical three act structured story or so that where he's going isn't where you think. His films never follow the same pattern and as a result while he makes great films they are impossible to pigeon hole.

Such is the case with his latest MONSTER.  With a title certain to confuse anyone looking for a horror film, it is in fact something else entirely. The truth is even giving you a version of the suggested log line about the film being about a mother noticing changes in her son and investigating why they happened, isn't going to give you any idea where this is going or of the emotional range and depth of this film.

The film is a kind of puzzle box or a series of cinematic nesting dolls, though the dolls analogy isn't quite right. The film is an investigation of what happened in the life of young Minato. Over the course of the film we see the events from various points of view, the mother, the teacher, Minato's and one at other times people outside the events. We are given fragments of the story so that we can see things as only god would.

This film is a stunner. Beautifully acted and magnificently shot the film marries it all together with a moving score to create a film that has some of the most moving sequences in any film I've seen this year, This is a film  that had me staring at the screen when it was over, pondering it, and trying to decide if I wanted to go again right then or sit with the emotions that had welled up in me.

It is because Kore-eda makes me feel in every fiber of my body that he is one of my favorite directors. I truly don't need to know anything about any film he makes for me to be interested in it- just tell me he directed it and I'm in.

And with MONSTER I'm all in. It is a magnificent cinematic  through life of the sort we rarely get. 

Highly recommended. The film is out now and opens wide on December 15.

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