The Monk [Le Moine]

"Good"

The Monk [Le Moine] Review


This 16th century freak-out is ravishingly beautiful to look at, but it's also turgid and relentlessly grim. So what's essentially a dark supernatural thriller will only really appeal to arthouse audiences.

Left on the steps of an isolated Spanish monastery as an infant, Ambrosio (Cassel) has grown up to be a celebrated priest, wowing the population of nearby Madrid with his radical sermons. But he's haunted by visions, as well as a dark secret kept by an oddly powerful woman (Francois). Meanwhile, young Antonia (Japy) is being wooed by the sexy Lorenzo (Noaille), a match her mother (Mouchet) approves but worries about. And no one has a clue that all of their fates are intertwined.

Based on the 18th century English gothic novel by Matthew Lewis (and set in Spain with French-speaking characters), the story is seriously intense. Besides the tortured account of Ambrosio's increasingly dark temptations, there's also a sideplot about a disgraced young nun (Duran) cruelly punished by her Prioress (Chaplin). And from the start it's clear that there's something not quite right about Antonia's romance with Lorenzo. Meanwhile, the Father Superior (Dauder) is making pronouncements that the devil has arrived, while a shifty parishoner (Lopez) lurks around the edges.

Moll assembles this in deep shadows with flickering candlelight and a surging score by Alberto Iglesias. There's some black wit in the way it's directed and edited, but this is a sombre film packed melodramatic glances and supernatural creepiness. It looks so fantastic that we're willing to follow it into some extremely grisly places, including ghostly apparitions and black miracles. And as the story progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that it probably won't have a cheerful ending.

The acting is subtle and involving, with Cassel holding things together as the increasingly anguished Ambrosio, who never suspects that his troubled past has any relevance in his present life of holy devotion. But the various plot strands don't merge coherently, leaving us on the outside as things get progressively nasty, perhaps because Ambrosio begins to lose himself as well.

So by the time we reach the unsettling climax, we recoil at the horror of it all, but shrug and leave the cinema unmoved.



Facts and Figures

Production compaines: Diaphana Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Frère Ambrosio, as Valerio, Joséphine Japy as Antonia, as Le débauché, as Elvire, Roxane Duran as Agnès, as L’abbesse, Jordi Dauder as Père Miguel, Frédéric Noaille as Lorenzo, Javivi as Frère Andrés (as Javivi Gil Valle), Martine Vandeville as Leonella, Pierre-Félix Gravière as Frère Iago, Ernst Umhauer as Le novice, Serge Feuillard as Le tuteur


Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Ricki and the Flash Movie Review

Ricki and the Flash Movie Review

Meryl Streep is having so much fun playing an ageing rocker that the audience only...

The Transporter Refuelled Movie Review

The Transporter Refuelled Movie Review

Like James Bond, wilfully anonymous driver Frank Martin is reborn as a new actor without...

No Escape Movie Review

No Escape Movie Review

One of the strongest action thrillers in recent years, this gripping movie cleverly casts actors...

45 Years Movie Review

45 Years Movie Review

Like an antidote to vacuous blockbusters, this intelligent, thoughtful drama packs more intensity into a...

Advertisement
Straight Outta Compton Movie Review

Straight Outta Compton Movie Review

This biopic gallops through the career of groundbreaking gangsta rappers N.W.A, working its way through...

We Are Your Friends Movie Review

We Are Your Friends Movie Review

Basically the perfect summer movie, this lightweight drama has a great-looking cast and plenty of...

Sinister 2 Movie Review

Sinister 2 Movie Review

As the ghoul from the 2012 horror hit stalks a new family, this sequel's sharply...

Paper Towns Movie Review

Paper Towns Movie Review

After setting the scene with vivid characters and some insightful interaction, the plot of this...

Advertisement