Steamy, weird and gorgeously shot, this is an admirable attempt to bring Matthew Lewis’s classic 18th century gothic novel to the big screen. It’s a shame so few people in the UK saw it in cinemas, as there is much to enjoy here from a cinematic point of view. Director Dominic Moll stages everything so impressively it seems a waste that most people in this country will probably consume this on DVD on a rather small screen.
It’s not all perfection, sadly, as there are many scenes that some may find tedious, and the dialogue isn’t compelling enough to stop this being a problem. The script works well when it comes to piecing together the novel so it feels cinematic, but the experience isn’t an easy one. Vincent Cassel, in the lead role, is as expressive and magnetic as ever, and there is a terrific sense of eerie intensity between his character and a strange, masked Monk with whom he becomes acquainted with.
The sex scenes will feel a little tame to anyone who has ever watched anything broadcast after 10PM on Channel 4. This could be regarded as a problem for a story that was regarded as a raunchy shocker when it was originally published.The Monk is watchable enough, but it’s a film with interesting and impressive aspects rather than succeeding as an impressive film as a whole.
The Monk (2011), directed by Dominic Moll, is released on DVD in the UK by Metrodome Distribution, Certificate 15.