Dec 21, 2023
Kyung Sok Kim
Tdjiri Yakini, Kasey Inez, Sha'quil Reeves, David Jite
The idea that our entire lives is predetermined and controlled by a little four-letter word called fate is both a terrifying and a comforting thought. On the one hand, it suggests that you lack the control to make your own decisions and that even those that you assume that you are making for yourself are fated. On the other hand, there is comfort in knowing that you have a path that you will remain on, no matter how lost you feel, and that even when you think that you have done something wrong, that whatever it was, was always meant to happen. ‘Monét’ explores many themes in an extremely nuanced and enthralling manner, including the idea that many people come into your life to shape your destiny.
The titular Monét (played by Kasey Inez) narrates the film, beginning with the opening ideas of fate and destiny, suggesting that in our youth we have an entitled view of the world that everything will go as planned, before she suggests that every choice and every person shapes our destiny. Monét is referring to three people whom she is with at a party, her best friend Sarai (played by Tdjiri Yakini), Sarai’s boyfriend Jason (Sha’quil Reeves) whom she has a familial connection to, and Naeem, her boyfriend Naeem (David Jite). However, it is not Monét’s story that we are following, rather that of Sarai, and the aftermath of the party, where, driving back home there was a car accident, and Monét died.
The film focuses on the impact that Monét’s death has on Sarai’s life. She is absent from school for a week, and when she does dare to go in, she is bullied relentlessly by a troop of three girls who repeatedly call her a murderer. Jason begins to cut ties with her, blaming Sarai for Monét’s death, perhaps not unreasonably given his position, but something that nonetheless damages the innocent Sarai. Her mental health deteriorates, with visions of Monét and flashbacks to that fateful night. Monét’s story may have ended, but her impact continues to resonate in the lives of those three whom she was with at the party, particularly Sarai, as she shapes her destiny further.
Kyung Sok Kim directs the film delicately, with the camera seeming to glide through the party scenes with ease and a gentle precision, before taking a more narrow focus on Sarai, with closeups in the party’s aftermath. Kim’s directing is excellent, and only helps build the sense of intrigue leading up to the reveal of what actually happened on the night of the party that ultimately led to the car accident. This is also adeptly conveyed through Tdjiri Yakini’s screenplay, which expertly conveys the subtleties in Sarai’s feelings of guilt, hatred, and fear, following the events of that night. This wouldn’t be possible if Yakini didn’t deliver such an excellent performance herself, perfectly expressing the nuances in Sarai’s feelings through the intonations of her voice or the movements of her face.
‘Monét’ is both an intriguing film through its storyline and through its meditations on fate and how that his impacted by those around us. With sublime performances and excellent camerawork, it makes for a very impressive drama.