YOUTH IN WAR: Despite its many references to, among other things, the Lord of the Flies and the Apocalypse now! Latin American Monos is in many ways a unique film.

Huser is a regular film critic in MODERN TIMES.
Published: 2020-02-09

Alejandro Landes (Colombia, Argentina, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden)

In a deserted mountain landscape in Latin America, presumably in Colombia, we meet a group of youngsters who go by tire names like Rambo, Lady, Dog, Smurf and Bigfoot. They constitute the guerrilla troop Monos ("monkeys") and fight for an organization that is only referred to as the organization. Their primary task is to look after an American hostage they call Doctora, who we later know is an engineer named Sara Watson. In addition, they are given responsibility for the dairy cow Shakira - which will also have consequences for the development of the action.

Discipline and anarchy

The feature film portrays the paramilitary group in both hard physical training and free play - as well as some sexual testing situations typical of their age. However, the discipline is clear: Since Lady and fellow soldier Wolf want to start a relationship, they must ask permission from the organization's representative. However, after the latter leaves the group to himself under Wolf's leadership, certain elements of what might be called youthful anarchy in the ranks arise.

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The kidnapped woman seems to have been affected to some extent by the so-called Stockholm Syndrome, where she is introduced in friendly dialogue with two young guerrilla girls who wash and care for her hair. A little later, though reluctantly, she participates in a bizarre whipping ritual in connection with the birthday of the androgynous boy Rambo (who is otherwise played by a girl). But as the troop has to abandon the base and move into the jungle, it is becoming increasingly clear that Watson is working purposefully to escape the captivity.

Sensual presence

Jumpsuits is certainly an intense movie, but no plot-driven thriller in the classic sense. The relatively simple action often comes in the background of the observations of soldiers' training and play, which are not always easy to distinguish from one another. The film also provides no background information on the various members of the guerrilla group or the military conflict in which they participate. Instead, director Alejandro Landes is keen to create a presence, a here and now. Photographer Jasper Wolf's panoramas of the mighty landscape sometimes contrast with the close-ups of the young soldiers, but to an equally great extent their experience of being in nature and…

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