Monster | TIFF 2023 | Review by: Benjamin Garrett
Perspective is everything, but it rarely shows you a picture in its entirety. Observing something from a singular point of view will only ever give you a two dimensional perspective. Monster beautifully showcases the importance of looking at a story from every angle, because not everything is as it seems upon first glance.
Director Hirokazu Kore-Eda and writer Yûji Sakamoto have crafted a brilliant story of clashing perspectives. Following a series of events seen through the eyes of three characters, this film unfolds in layered stages. The brilliance comes from how we as an audience perceive the narrative, depending on which point of view we’re watching from. These three chapters are meticulously designed to put you in each character’s frame of mind. It’s impossible to see the bigger picture in its entirely until the final moments.
This constantly changes the way you look at everything that’s passed, whether it’s a seemingly insignificant line of dialogue, or a character’s behaviour. You’ll rethink so much of what you’ve seen, and your perception will frequently shift as the plot unravels. By adding both necessary context and polarizing new perspectives with each chapter, it’s like watching three different stories, even though it’s just one. I’m looking forward to a rewatch, because knowing everything from the start will enrich the entire experience.
The performances are equally important in conveying - and not conveying - crucial pieces of this puzzle. Mannerisms and dialogue that may seem strange from one perspective make complete sense when revisited from another point of view. The actors hold their cards close to their chest, and while some performances come across as cold and distant at first, they’ll devastate you emotionally later on.
Monster plays with perspective and perception masterfully, with a layered, emotionally devastating story that begs for multiple viewings. The questions it presents require attention and patience, but the answers are some of the most rewarding in any film this year.
Review by: Benjamin Garrett
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