Superpowers do not equate to being kind or intelligent, as we will witness today in this distinctive 2021 movie, Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon.
Indeed this story begins with a young girl on the floor in her asylum cell, tightly bound inside a straitjacket.
For 13 years, she has sat in this place in a catatonic condition without moving or saying a word to anyone.
Suddenly, she gains consciousness in the middle of a full-moon night, freeing herself and fleeing without the slightest problem.
Her escape is easy because she discovers that she can control other people for a few brief moments after hypnotizing them by staring at them intensely.
She knows nothing about the outside world, having never left the asylum where she has been since childhood.
After becoming friends with a drug dealer who offers her food and some clothes, she wounds a policeman who recognizes her from mug shots and attempts to arrest her.
The man is wounded in the leg but does not give up as he tries to figure out how she drove him to shoot himself.
In the meantime, the girl buddied up with a stripper after rescuing her from the jealous and insane girlfriend of another guy at a fast food restaurant.
To thank her for the save, this woman hosts her in her home, where she lives alone with her young son.
She also teaches the runaway mentalist how to use her power more profitably, forcing various people at ATMs to give them money.
However, each of their thefts leaves more and more clues, and the policeman relentlessly continues searching for the girl since it is now a personal matter for him and not just a work question.
Realistic yet funny entertainment and drama
Ana Lily Amirpour is a young director from whom I had already enjoyed The Bad Batch, where the beautiful Suki Waterhouse struggled without a hand in post-apocalyptic futures.
Despite many original source ideas, it had glaring shortcomings in the second half, yet her melancholy style with spicy horror overtones was already present.
With Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon, we can see how she takes several steps forward in 2021, making a movie with better pacing and more consistent and exciting characters.
The story immediately kicks off by sinking the pedal on the accelerator with almost no introduction, just as I always prefer.
Indeed there is no beginning with a narrative voice explaining the background of the protagonist or the other characters.
Instead, the director lets the images do the talking and leaves us with the fun of understanding their different psychology and motivations from their behavior.
I want to say that, basically, the characters are much more original than the story, which has a predictable rise in the confrontation between the supergirl and the policeman.
Instead, it is very original in how we get to this confrontation and the consequences for the relationships between the characters.
Each sequence is built lifelike in costumes and staging, although what we see is often over the top in dialogue and situations.
While they have a tone of pulp exaggeration, even the jokes of the people he encounters are realistic in the urban setting of decaying poverty and violence.
Fortunately, there is always irony moderating the most violent situations, although the closer we get to the end, the more the fun melts away into the sentimentality of the separation and abandonment among the various characters.
The elements remain balanced, nevertheless, and in no moment do they ever become silly or tedious.
Street faces scrolling across the screen
In this story, many characters come and go, even for a brief moment, although the significant ones are basically five.
First of all, of course, there is Jeon Jong-seo, coming to America after being a mysterious lady in the intriguing psychological thriller Burning, one of Korea’s most internationally acclaimed productions.
The actress opens with blunt, emotionless Terminator-like acting, emerging from her catatonic state as a violent avenging machine in search of freedom.
However, as the minutes go by, there arises all those emotions of a child discovering the world, especially when she meets Kate Hudson.
Long gone for her are the days of sentimental comedies like You, Me and Dupree; here becoming a tough, cynical woman who expects nothing from life except to make a few bucks while her body is still attractive.
Then again, even this steely-armored woman has her weakness, her son, played by Evan Whitten, with whom she has an interesting love-hate relationship that climaxes in a splendid ending.
Even better is how the little boy befriends the girl who is a stranger from the world, introducing her to the beauty of simple things like listening to loud music and dancing wildly in his room.
Although I usually like Craig Robinson very much, I found his character unsuccessful and think he would have been much more effective with a script that allowed him to unleash his full comic potential.
Finally, let’s talk about my favorite character, played by the colorful singer/actor Ed Skrein.
At first, he seemed to me to be just a braggart trying to hit on the beautiful leading lady but later revealed to be a sensitive and caring man, even if he must be a badass drug dealer on the street.