Monochrome (Movie Review)

Monochrome (Movie Review)

Any time there is a significant crime, higher powers are immediately involved. Sometimes the crimes are vastly different but all tied together by a single thread. Due out Tuesday, June 6, 2018, on VOD and DVD via Gravitas Ventures, Monochrome offers a thrilling tale of bank fraud, murder, and deceit.

Someone has embezzled over 700-million pounds of pension funds from the DMP Bank. The amount is so significant that it is the biggest pension fraud in twenty years and will collapse the market, thrusting the country into a recession. Brendan Kelly (Steve Jackson) is arrested by Agent Walcott (Lee Boardman: Rome series, Jack the Giant Slayer 2013) from the British Crime Agency (BCA) Special Fraud Unit for the crime. He insists that he is innocent and does not know where the money is. His girlfriend of three years, Emma Rose (Jo Woodcock: Dorian Gray 2009, Collision 2009) is wanted for questioning, but she runs from the police and attempts to go off the grid.

Monochrome still.

Emma flees London and ends up in Cotswolds. There she changes her name and offers her housekeeping services to Roger Daniels (James Cosmo: Braveheart 1995, Troy 2004), a famous artist. She is willing to do what he needs for free: all she wants is a roof over her head and food. He agrees. Though, once Roger finds out who she really is, he immediately begins to treat her like a slave. He warns her that if she tries to flee or do anything out-of-line, he will call the police and she will be arrested. She is disgusted by him, but he continues to treat her like she is nothing and she is quickly coming to the end of her patience.

Meanwhile the BCA, at the direction of Director Martha Walker (Liz May Brice: Torchwood 2009, Black Mirror 2014), have created the Investigative Psychology Unit. Agent Randall Grey (Patrice Naiambana: Son of God 2014, Spectre 2015) has selected Gabriel Lenard (Cosmo Jarvis: The Naughty Room 2012, Lady Macbeth 2016) to be the sole member of the experimental unit. The idea is to create a unit that parallels, and eventually will rival, what the American FBI has at Quantico and track serial killers. Gabriel is an odd man: he has synesthesia, a condition where objects, events, and certain people project a color; and he can also hear music when seeing colors. Though Gabriel is very socially awkward, he is determined to keep the unit alive.

Roger goes to London to speak at a function and there he meets Gabriel, who is a huge fan of his. In fact, Gabriel believes that Roger is the greatest artist of his generation, and he cannot only see but also hear Roger’s paintings. Unfortunately, Roger is pretty nasty to him but this does not change how he feels.

Monochrome still.

When Roger returns home, Emma has snapped. She attacks him, tying him him up and torturing him. Ultimately, she moves on and the bodies of the wealthy continue to pile up in her wake. Gabriel is hot on her trail, but no one except for Randall believes him. Will Gabriel reach her in time, and, if he does, will he escape her killing spree? Perhaps, most importantly, where is the money and can it be recovered?

It is difficult to create a suspenseful film with so many moving parts, and each and every piece of Monochrome could be sliced out and made into its own film. The dynamic at the BCA is pointed, and every agent has their own agendas and unique story. Randall’s insistence on hiring Gabriel cannot be just because he was the best candidate; he is too passionate about it. It would be interesting to find out why he pushed so hard. Wilcox is angry and harsh – what happened to him to make him that way?

Emma did not have to be written as a serial killer. Every kill she makes is creative and deeply moving. Diving deeper into who Roger and her other kills were and why they became such angry nasty people would have be interesting. Instead, somehow Writer and Director Thomas Lawes is able to pull all of this into a cohesive plot that never lacks in pace or excitement. He did what most writers only dream of doing; created a multitude of multifaceted, fascinating characters that leave the viewer satisfied yet still wanting more.

Monochrome still.

Emma Rose is a complex character. She repeatedly says how much she detests money and anyone who has it. This is curious, because she is in her current situation because her boyfriend was a rich banker who allegedly stole a substantial amount of money. The film only gives small glimpses of how she was when dating Brendan, and how quickly she went from having everything to insisting on wanting nothing was dramatic. The viewer can pinpoint the exact moments that Emma’s personality changes because of the subtle facial expressions and movements of Woodcock’s brilliant acting. Every choice she makes is perfectly-suited for her character. Even though Emma is a money-hating serial killer, somehow, she is still incredibly likeable. The people she kills are such horribly vile slices of humanity that the viewer will struggle to mourn their deaths. Rather, it is Emma that the viewer is invested in and hopes that she will never get caught.

Synesthesia is an interesting medical condition that allows those who have it to involuntarily experience heightened sensory perceptions that most do not. Sounds and colors are projected from varying sources, and most individuals with this condition can perceive things better than the average person. Gabriel having this medical condition allows him to be a better detective than his counterparts. Emma appears as a bright yellow to him, and he can sense her color by just touching the bed that she once slept in. The film allows the viewer to see what Gabriel sees as he is seeing it. Without allowing the viewer in like this, the film would have lost most of its appeal; he would have been just a weird agent who knew things he never should have known. Giving the character synesthesia adds a layer of wonder: it is almost as though he has a super-power that gives him the advantage over Emma and every other criminal he might ultimately face. Another film with his character would definitely be well received.

Monochrome has a lot of moving parts. It would have been easy for things to get too complicated with the end result being a less than stellar film. Thomas Lawes did not allow that to happen here, and each piece has been meticulously placed in a way that everything unfolds into a perfectly intriguing film. Each piece could be cut out and made into a stand-alone film, so the effect is several different plots all connected by one thing, Emma Rose. The acting is superb, and no one attached to the film should ever look back and regret any of the decisions made. Monochrome is truly one of the best Drama/Thriller films that has been produced in a long time. It is for these reasons that CrypticRock gives Monochrome 5 out 5 stars.

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Sarah Salvaggio
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