Lonergan incisively and, at times, poetically examines the power play in a polyamorous relationship. He deftly juxtaposes socioeconomic issues with personal ones. The titular “monsters” aren’t just the demons haunting the protagonists. It’s also the establishment, which still traps us in debt and imbecilic jobs, exiling those it considers outcasts. Interestingly, Lonergan explores the flipside of the coin; wherein progressive couples tend to deem themselves the center of the universe while being utterly and self-confessedly dysfunctional.
Delivered with gusto by his game cast, the script’s dialogue is rapid-fire and vibrant. Lonergan and his skilled cinematographer Andrew Huebscher certainly know how to frame stunning black-and-white shots, be it passionate explorations of the male physique (the film contains lovely erotic sequences) or images of this great nation, from Washington D.C. to the beaches of Los Angeles. The experimental approach yields some impressive results, particularly in the editing: ingeniously complemented by classical music, scenes cut abruptly between arguing and lovemaking, and static long shots with overlapping dialogue, making for a rather singular experience.
“The experimental approach yields some impressive results, particularly in the editing…”
Alas, the filmmaker does add several flourishes that make this project intermittently veer off into pretentious territory. The parallels/allusions to U.S. history – the film is split into chapters, starting with the early 19th Century and ending in 2017 – purport to contain some deep allegorical meaning (albeit tongue-in-cheek), but prove a distraction. The narrative vacillates between pleasantly aimless to gratingly disjointed, especially in the film’s second, L.A.-based half. The German and Russian lesbian couples – quite significant characters in the 74-minute movie – are purposefully exaggerated for comic effect but come off as stereotypes with jarring accents.
Despite those lapses in judgment, Lonergan announces himself as a talent to watch with Kill the Monsters. He’s just gaining momentum. If he tones down his embellishments and tightens his focus, he could very well reach the leagues of the greats that so clearly inspired him.
"…assured direction... reveals a profound knowledge of cinema and human psychology."