Wednesday, 7 September 2016


A short, sharp blow to the system, one whose ineffectuality, in being self-diagnosed, only enhances its relevance and its strength as a polemical statement. Rodrigo Pla weds his technique to the terseness of that statement, crafting a neat, lean, restless film that nonetheless projects patience and quiet intelligence. Rather than the swathes of silence, lengthy sequences of dialogue or expressionistic devices favoured by other filmmakers, Pla makes his points swiftly and subtly. A Monster with a Thousand Heads may be a film with a clear purpose in mind, leaving no room for ambiguity, but it is enriched by its perspectival breadth and its embrace of complexity. Essential to the appreciation of Pla's roving, sympathetic outlook is grasping the humanism within this approach - this cruel system is an obscure, indistinct menace, rarely glimpsed, even more rarely observed. It rejects communication and compromise, and is thus antithetical to the fundamental needs of those people whom it purports to serve. Just as it is a system created by human beings, it has grown into a system that betrays human beings, and Pla presents his characters as pawns in the process of that betrayal. Each may be looking out for their own, but each discovers a commonality in that regard, and Pla makes a direct connection between this and the liberalism of his message. It's a distant film that, though it may probe deeply and perceptively into the social issues it documents, never truly gets under the viewer's skin - for all that the aforementioned message benefits from its straightforward simplicity, it forfeits a little in predictability. But A Monster with a Thousand Heads is an intelligent, forceful film that fulfils its noble agenda.