Review: Monochrome: the Chromism

Year: 2020

Runtime: 73 minutes

Writer/director: Kodi Zene

Stars: Josh Bangle, Cat Merritt, Devin Leigh, Ryan Barnes, Andre Pelzer, Shashana Pearson

By Joan Amenn

Contrasting black and white and color in one film is an old cinematic trick that can be found in the “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) and “Pleasantville” (1998) to name just two. “Monochrome: the Chromism” takes its own twist on this effect by making the comparison the basis for its dystopian plot. It’s a clever idea but its execution left a bit to be desired.

In the film’s alternate reality, America is on the brink of war with Britain. This is mind-bending onto itself since we have been allies for roughly a century in the real world, but there is never any explanation as to why hostilities began in the first place. Isaac Ward (Josh Bangle) is preparing to propose to his girlfriend after somewhat incongruously telling her he was working late that night. It is left to anyone’s guess how he was planning to get her to show up at a restaurant when he was supposed to be at his office because things quickly go south for poor Isaac. In the parlance of our times, he is about to “go through some things” as are his girlfriend (Cat Merritt) and his older brother Jerry (Ryan Barnes).

Ryan Barnes in Monochrome: The Chromism (2019)| Photo Credit: IMDb

“Monochrome: the Chromism” may grow into a more solid story in future episodes but for now, it might be best to wait to see the whole series to get a clearer understanding of the plot.”

Isaac tells his story in flashback and we learn that he is the first to develop a somewhat colorful affliction in this world of greyscale. Why he and the rest of the “Hues” as they are called, are hunted and ostracized is never made clear. They are clearly not British subjects so they cannot be considered spies for the enemy and yet, they are treated that way. A mysterious suited man (Devin Leigh) discusses plans for biowarfare with his henchmen but the strange mutation of the Hues seems to be something that was not on his world domination agenda. Isaac is forced to flee for his life and this sets up the action for the next installment of this series of films.

While the film tries very hard to build suspense, there is too much exposition and not enough action. We meet the main characters and learn of their relationships to each other in the broadest terms and that is pretty much the entire film. A news reporter (Shashana Pearson) does her best to warn of impending doom but the tension never really ratchets up. The camera is repeatedly thrown out of focus when various characters are either physically or emotionally in crisis and this becomes a distraction. The acting is simply not strong enough to make us care for these people, whether they are facing the apocalypse or are oddly blending into Technicolor in addition to that. “Monochrome: the Chromism” may grow into a more solid story in future episodes but for now, it might be best to wait to see the whole series to get a clearer understanding of the plot.

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