Monster: Hirokazu Kore-eda Does It Again…

by Neil Bui

With a title like Monster, one might expect a horror film, dark aesthetics, or grotesque characters. However, the latest film by director Hirokazu Kore-eda feels just as real and emotionally intimate as his past works such as Nobody Knows and Shoplifters.

The film debuted earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival where it was nominated for the highest prize, the Palme d’Or, and took home the awards for the Queer Palm and the Best Screenplay Award. It should be noted that the film was written by Yuji Sakamoto, making Monster the first film since 1995 that Hirokazu Kore-eda has directed but did not write himself. But for those familiar with his past work, it’s clear that this film is very much in line with the recurring themes of his work such as found family, institutions falling short of its constituents, and the pure innocence of children. 

Narratively the film stands out by telling parts of the same story from three different perspectives, each followed by the next, which really drives the message home that our experiences and understanding of events will always be limited by what we know and what we do not know, so that despite our best intentions the actions we take may be doomed to be those of monsters hurting the innocent. Each subsequent scene helps illuminate the truth of the matter but unfortunately as audience members who can do nothing for the cast of characters, it’s a painful experience feeling helpless while wanting to reconcile these misunderstandings for the characters.

This is a must-see for any moviegoer interested in not only a legendary filmmaker’s work but looking for a film that mirrors life experiences and simply being a human in this world, more so than a typical hollywood blockbuster. By watching films such as Monster which capture these relatable human experiences, it can open us up to feeling challenged when it comes to asking more questions, being a more understanding person, and listening before acting. It is a very deliberate message that this film imparted on me during my viewing, and one that we could all benefit from learning or being reminded of, especially in a world that often feels divided or polarized.

Monster opened in New York on November 22 and opens in Los Angeles and Chicago December 1, with additional releases on December 15 in areas such as San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Dallas, Denver, and Washington D.C.

Where to watch Monster

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