Main Page
Alphabetical Menu
Chronological Menu

Reviews for May 11th, 2016

A Monster With a Thousand Heads

Directed by Rodrigo Plá

      Sonia Bonet (Jan Raluy) refuses to tolerate a broken healthcare system that doesn't allow life-saving medical care to be provided for her ailing husband, Memo (Daniel Cubillo). She's mad as hell, and just can't take it anymore. With a gun hidden in her purse, she drags along her teenage son, Dario (Sebastián Aguirre), to the hospital to try to confront Dr. Villalba (Hugo Albores) who's been ignoring her phone calls. She even goes to the extent of showing up at his home to wait for him there before displaying the gun to him when he refuses to help her husband who can die at any minute without the much-needed treatment that her current health insurance doesn't cover. All she needs to to have the treatment approved as part of the health coverage, but that takes more than one signature as it turns out, so she goes up through the chain of command in the healthcare system to get what she wants without being afraid to use her gun.

      Although the plot sounds like a standard vigilante crime thriller, the way that director Rodrigo Plá and screenwriter Laura Santullo tell the story is refreshing, intelligent and thoroughly riveting. From the get-go, it's easy for the audience to empathize with Sonia. You probably won't agree with her choice of using violence (or perhaps she had no other choice), but you'll definitely grasp the root causes of her anger, pain and desperation. Plá and Santullo wisely build the tension gradually instead of introducing the gun in the first scene. Once the gun is introduced, though, the tension rises. Kudos to Plá for selecting Jana Raluy in the role of Sonia because she's a very talented actress and gives bravura performance.

      In many ways, the camera becomes a character in itself in a way because of the interesting angles. Plá let the camera get too close to Sonia, so there's almost always a distance and sometimes even a different perspective during a key moment, i.e. from someone in his parked car in a garage or from the perspective of the maid in the kitchen who can hear Sonia and Dr. Villalba yelling at one another. Santullo and Plá should be commended for trusting the audience's and for what they decided, consciously or not, to omit from the film. There's no voice-over narration, no Tarantino-esque violence/gore (this is nothing like Kill Bill, after all), no subplots that go off into a distracting tangent, no melodramatic scene, no traditional third act, and no overlong running time---it's only 1 hour and 14 minutes, shockingly, so it doesn't overstay its welcome nor does it become exhausting. A Monster With a Thousand Heads is ultimately a lean, gripping, exhilarating and refreshingly intelligent thriller.

Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Released by Music Box Films.
Opens at Film Forum and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.