The feature debut of veteran advertising and music video director Anthony Mandler whose prolific production includes frequently working with Rihanna, Jay-Z, Drake and the Jonas Brothers, among many other renowned artists and brands , offers visual flair, but is distracting and awkward self-aware. Based on the 1999 book of the same name by Walter Dean Myers, “Monster” is both heavy and inert. He lays out all of his posts about the injustices that young black men too often endure at the hands of the police and the justice system – too necessary and relevant a topic, unfortunately – but there is very little in his characters, which makes their superficial and hollow struggle.
Maybe the first person narrative structure worked better on the page. In adapting Myers’ young adult novel, Radha Blank (the creative power behind “The 40-Year-Old Version”), Colen Wiley and Janece Shaffer maintained the principle of having the title character, a 17-year-old aspiring filmmaker. , describe her day as if it were a script, with scene titles like: “INT. Courtroom. “
“In the light, during the day, it was like a movie. It’s that movie. My story, written, directed and starring Steve Harmon, ”Harrison says of the extensive use of voiceover in the film. Often times we are forced to hear Steve explain what we can see with our own eyes without offering any sort of insight or sardonic twist. The approach repeatedly draws attention to itself and away from the legitimate drama it is experiencing.
What Steve is going through is truly heartbreaking. He is a sympathetic, kind-hearted and conscientious student at the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in New York City with a bright future. All of this is put in jeopardy when he’s falsely accused of being part of a deadly Harlem bodega robbery. Mandler opens the film with grainy security camera footage of two men breaking into the convenience store and killing the clerk before running away. Steve, in the wrong place at the wrong time on his way home from school, is swept away with the suspects (played by Washington and A $ AP Rocky, credited here as Rakim Mayers) – acquaintances of the neighborhood – and charged with murder. Witnesses during the trial simply see a group of young black men and do not hesitate to condemn them all.