Monument made the film festival rounds during 2018. And it’s now coming out on OVID as part of their double feature on director Jagoda Szelc’s work. Here, a bunch of Polish twentysomethings gain an internship within the hospitality service, but internship feels too prestigious of a title for their treatment and their work. The hotel manager (Dorota Łukasiewicz-Kwietniewska) give them tags with the same names. The film credits them as either Girl (Karolina Bruchnicka, etc.) or Boy (Mateusz Więcławek, etc.).
In making Monument, Szelc says that she’s not trying to make a story. I’ll get to this statement, but for now, let’s stay on her side and be nice. If she isn’t telling a story, she’s at least trying to capture a mood. There’s a lot of neon lighting here, capturing what these characters feel. This is also a student film so that these actors from the Lodz Film School class of 2014-2018 having something on their demo reels.
To these students’ credit, they are doing their best in a film that doesn’t have a story. Mystery dramas with the little dash of horror are perfect for student actors. Through this mashup, these students show directors that they can sell whatever concept the latter throws at them in the future. The film’s horror elements are scant outside of the occasional neon lighting and scenes where they gather within the titular monument. What we have then are these students going all out about fighting about chopping onions and who does what.
Monument takes us from the bus to the hotel quickly, where the interns realize that they’re missing their driver and a fellow intern. But after that, the film comes toa standstill. The pacing is at fault but so is the lack of plot, and no arguments about onions nor revelations of backstories can fix this. A boy (Wieclawek) talks about his special brother who makes him laugh but whom he beats. What should we feel about him then?
As much as the little bit of backstory gives us nothing, there’s also a part of me that wishes they threw more our way. Monument‘s characters don’t get to know each other. The film probably intends to use this to reflect their constant alienation and mind numbing daily routine. It’s a gamble to make viewers care for a film without having any characters to care for. And sadly, this film doesn’t do anything exceptional to break any rules. The titular monument also appears too few and far between.
Watch Monument on OVID.