People of Color Unite in ‘Monsters and Men,’ Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Powerful Debut

Posted by on September 28, 2018

Photo Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Following the fourth season of HBO’s Ballers and an Oscar-buzzed role in Spike Lee’s BlackKklansman, John David Washington — the talented son of Denzel — steps up with another forceful, socially relevant performance in Monsters and Men.

In a striking debut feature, writer-director Reinaldo Marcus Green uses three perspectives to examine the shooting of an unarmed black man by a white cop in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The victim is Darius Larson, a.k.a. Big D (Samel Edwards), a local who sells loose cigarettes outside a Bed-Stuy deli And if Big D reminds you of Eric Garner — who died in 2014 after police placed him in a chokehold — it’s not accidental.

Washington plays Dennis, an African-American man shown singing along to Al Green in his car before a white cop pulls him over. It’s racial proofing in action. There’s a gun on the front seat. It turns out Dennis is a cop, currently working undercover and sadly accustomed to being hassled by his colleagues. It’s also Dennis who sees the shooting of Big D by a fellow cop. Caught in a vise of indecision — does he rat on his brother in blue or let it go? — Dennis brings his crisis of conscience home to his wife and children.