We often forget that as human beings we are interconnected. No one has a singular experience, good or bad that doesn’t directly affect those closest to them. With everything that is happening in society today, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and isolated. The perils of the world seem to weigh us all down, and we fail to be vulnerable and find comfort in others. Reinaldo Marcus Green’s extraordinary feature film debut Monsters and Men examines what it means to be a person of color in these perilous times and how deeply haunted and affected we all are by acts of violence and police brutality. Told in a triptych of stories that are connected but don’t necessarily overlap, Green captures the intricacies of New York City and Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn in a way that is reminiscent to Spike Lee’s love letters to his hometown. However, Green is not trying to pay homage; he’s intent on taking a stand.
The first part of the film follows Manny (Hamilton alum Anthony Ramos), a young father with major life changes on the horizon. Coming home one evening, he records the death of his good friend Darius Larson on his cell phone. It’s a ripped-from-the-headlines scenario, nearly identical to the 2014 death of Eric Garner. Big D, as he was known around the way, was a staple in the community. He was known for selling loose squares outside of the bodega and giving the kids who rode by a dollar here and there. Traumatized by Big D’s death and tormented by the NYPD who threaten him to keep quiet, Manny must decide what to do, a decision that could greatly alter not just his life but the life of his pregnant girlfriend and young daughter.
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