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SIFF Movie: "The Monk" - Elf M. Sternberg
SIFF Movie: "The Monk"
"The Monk" is a throwback to the 1970s when one of the popular memes was "The devil breaks a good man." That's what we have here: a descent into Hell where the audience gets to watch as, agonizing choice after agonizing choice, the victim at first does the wrong thing for the right reasons, but at each step gets led further and further into committing evil. There is no subtlety here: the Devil himself ("Le Débauché" in the credits) intervenes at a few points to make sure our monk isn't discovered in his misdeeds. It's not terribly well done.

The cinematography is amazing, and the setting, costumery, and landscape are the best part of this film. The acting is often great but sometimes falls flat, mostly due the two women who anchor the opposite ends of the good/evil spectrum, neither of whom does a very good job. The ending feels pointless.

If this is a film about a man "unmoored by his sexuality," it doesn't succeed very well. At most, he is unmoored by his own selfishness-- at first to be seen doing the right thing, at the end to do whatever he wants because he has no desire to turn back. There are crisis points, but the big one, the step where we, the audience, see that he cannot go back doesn't really feel like it ever happens before us.

All in all, a worthwhile effort, but sadly not an excellent one.

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