Monuments is a fine example of the creative freedom allowed by independent films. It infuses a potentially maudlin story with unexpected humor and oddball touches that make it entertaining rather than depressing, always a win in my book. It’s no classic, but Monuments offers a unique spin on a familiar story that should find traction with wider audiences.
History teacher Ted (David Sullivan) is grieving over the death of his wife Laura (Marguerite Moreau), carrying her ashes around and seeing visions of her. Laura’s dysfunctional family wants to put the ashes to rest, but Ted refuses, stealing the truck of brother Howl (Javier Munoz) to drive to the Field Museum in Chicago, the last place he and Laura were happy. This starts a road trip of misadventures allowing Ted to process his loss and become a stronger man along the way.
Monuments could have been a huge mess in the wrong hands. Combining wacky road antics with serious drama sounds like a recipe for discomfort, but under the careful handling of writer/director/producer Jack C. Newell, the film mostly navigates its tonal shifts without major mood whiplash.
I mentioned in my review for Gretl Claggett’s short film Stormchaser that balancing drama and humor is a difficult task. While Monuments doesn’t balance the two quite as effectively, the emotional arc and well-acted characters sooth over any rough spots. The movie is worthy of applause for introducing its crazier elements slowly and not letting them distract from the underlying drama.
This film and its creators deserve the attention they’ve earned here and I look forward to their next projects. Monuments tells a satisfyingly emotional story with humor, oddball charm, and creative freedom that reminds us that independent films shouldn’t be ignored. See Monuments.
3.4 out of 5 stars (slightly above average)
Monuments Trailer and Synopsis
When Laura is killed in an accident, her estranged husband, Ted, wants to honor their time together by scattering her ashes where they first fell in love. But he isn’t alone in his journey. Aided by Laura’s ghost, he heads out on a cross-country road trip while being chased by her family and the memory of the mistakes he made in life.
Monuments is available now on VOD and Digital. What did you think of the new release? Let us know in the comment section or over on our social media!
KEEP READING: SHORT CIRCUIT SEASON 2 REVIEW: MAGICAL FILMS BRING JOY