The Monk [Le Moine]

"Very 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

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.