Film Scouts Reviews

"B. Monkey"

by Thom Bennett

Starring: Asia Argento, Jared Harris, Rupert Everett, Jonathan Rhys Meyers,
Ian Hart, Bryan Pringle, Tim Woodward
Produced by Colin Vaines, Stephen Woolley.
Written by Andrew Davies and Michael Thomas
Directed by Michael Radford
Distributed by Miramax

"B. Monkey" is the nickname given to a beautiful thief named Beatrice (the stunning Asia Argento). She is caught up in the dark, seedy underbelly that lurks in the London night. When a schoolteacher with an ear for jazz named Alan (Jared Harris) sees her he is instantly struck by her beauty. Through her growing relationship with Alan, B. begins to see and appreciate the other side of life and love. He is the first person who sees her for the special girl that she is. However, her dark past and her allegiance to her friends Bruno (Jonathan Rhys Myers) and Paul (Rupert Everett) make finding happiness and escape in her new life a near impossibility.

The cast of "B. Monkey" is excellent throughout. Jonathan Rhys Meyers ("Velvet Goldmine") and Rupert Everett ("Cemetery Man") give standout performances as B's only friends and reminders of a past she just can't shake. Jared Harris lends a degree of normalcy to the proceedings as Alan, who is in love with B. from the moment he first sees her. It is, however, Asia Argento as B. who manages to steal the show. Argento possesses an exotic beauty that is far bigger than any frame of film can hope to hold. She has eyes that manage to say more about her character than all the dialogue in the world ever could. Already an accomplished actress and director in her native Italy (she is the daughter of Italian horror-master Dario Argento), Asia Argento has a screen presence few could ever hope to have and seems poised to be a true movie star in every sense of the word.

Director Michael Radford ("Il Postino") and cinematographer Ashley Rowe manage to create a look for the film that is at once dark and beautiful, somewhat reminiscent of the films of Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai. The contrasts between the two worlds that B. is now stuck between are brought to life by an amazing soundtrack that mixes old school jazz with such atmospheric contemporary artists as The London Suede and Portishead. You truly get a feel for the life she wants to live and the life she wants to leave behind.

Skillfully executed, "B. Monkey" is a dark, erotic fairy tale that takes place in a world both horrifying and strangely beautiful. Hands down, one of the best films of the year.

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