CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Thriller
  • 2011

The Monk

The Monk

Synopsis

A respected monk is led astray by the devil and an assortment of inconsiderately hot young women in this screen adaptation of Matthew G. Lewis's scandalous 1796 novel, directed by Dominik Moll.

About

17th-century Madrid looks like a pretty boring place to live. Young men find themselves consigned to dour monasteries, young women are forced to marry bumbling, rich husbands, and NO-ONE is allowed to have any sex. The fact that going to church seems to be the only way to get your kicks just about says it all. Enter brother Ambrosio (Vincent Cassell), a prodigiously preachy Catholic monk whose passion in the pulpit has the ladies literally swooning in the pews. And, as the Beatles were to discover several centuries later, such talent and charisma inevitably attracts more than its fair share of groupies and stalkers - some of whom have more on their minds than the guarding of their virtues.


This is German director Dominik Moll's fourth feature, following 2000's impressive Harry, He's Here to Help and 2005's intriguing Lemming. It's a bit of an odd choice. Adapted from Matthew G. Lewis's Gothic novel of the same name, this story about a respected monk giving in to his baser impulses provoked moral outrage when it was first published in 1796. But what relevance does it have for audiences today?


The answer, unfortunately, is not much. Visually, it's stunning, channelling Caravaggio and Dreyer with painstaking chiaroscuro lighting. But plot-wise it plays out like a hornier version of 'Cadfael' - only nowhere near horny enough to make up for the tedium which dogs the vast majority of the film. Watching po-faced people hanging around in a selection of rooms and gardens wrestling earnestly with their existential and moral demons is not much fun. When a bit of sex does finally happen, the prudish camera usually chooses to look elsewhere. As a result, the most erotic bit in the whole film is when Ambrosio and one of his fans recite psalms at each other (while hanging around in a garden).


Without the sauce, all that's left is Ambrosio's interminable torment as he fights to suppress his natural urges. And in an age when most people just aren't that preoccupied with their immortal souls anymore, the question of whether or not to fornicate is considerably less troubling - and interesting - than it was 200 years ago.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Vincent Cassel
  • Director: Dominik Moll

In a nutshell

All talk, no action, The Monk looks good but is weighed down by the Catholic guilt it's trying to critique.

by Rebecca Davies

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Second Coming

    Debbie Tucker Green's drama follows a tight family unit navigating their way through family life as it breaks down in the aftermath of an unexplained pregnancy

  • Film4 Million Dollar Arm

    Million Dollar Arm

    Struggling sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) has the idea to launch a reality TV contest in India that offers contestants the chance to land a Major League Baseball contract

  • Film4 Half Nelson

    Half Nelson on Film4

    Ryan Gosling stars as an inner-city high school teacher struggling with a drug problem in Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden's Oscar-nominated drama on Film4

  • Film4 Rust and Bone

    Rust And Bone on Film4

    Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts star in Jacques Audiard's romantic drama on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4 On-Air Refresh 2014: Daniel Chase

    This Tuesday, Film4 channel is unveiling a new set of cinematic on-air idents, and here on the blog we¿re taking you behind the scenes for a series of interviews with the creative team who¿ve worked o

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Fred Dekker on Night Of The Creeps

    As Film4 screens 80s comedy-horror Night Of The Creeps for the first time, writer/director Fred Dekker looks back on his filmmaking debut... Night Of The Creeps was written in three weeks. At least,

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share