An unnerving social drama elevated by perfect performances all around, Monster overcomes the slog of certain expendable flashbacks to deliver a poignant message that unfortunately transcends time.
In Monster, Kelvin Harrison, Jr. plays a teenage honor student who is charged with felony murder, thrown unexpectedly into the fight for his life. Harrison continues his hot streak of bring to life absolutely enthralling characters who evoke empathy at every turn. The supporting cast (Jennifer Hudson, Jeffrey Right, Jennifer Ehle, Tim Blake Nelson, John David Washington, and A$AP Rocky) are all expertly cast and shine at every dramatic turn. This is a story that we have seen played out in film a few other times, but this particular iteration us told with intriguing interaction between gripping present day courtroom scenes and flashbacks spliced in that fill out the story. It is in these flashbacks, however, that Monster damages the fervor with which it sets out; some are simply unnecessary or poorly constructed to influence the overall understanding of the story.
The courtroom scenes absolutely serve as the riveting core of the film, forcing viewers to confront bias and explore injustice, though in a lighter way than perhaps would have been more effective. Somewhere along the way, Monster loses its path and comes in for a soft landing when director Anthony Mandler could have really put the exclamation point on the film’s message. Still, the performances alone make Monster worthwhile and the film should get all viewers thinking.
Monster is now streaming on Netflix.
Photo from Netflix