Road Trip anyone?
Indie comedy/drama Monuments is a theatrical release but also released on 'virtual cinema.' that means you can buy a ticket from a participating theater and watch it in the comfort of your home. We love virtual theater options.
Monuments is about a grieving widower who travels across the country in a stolen pick-up truck and is determined to scatter his beloveds ashes in Chicago where they originally lived together and had their happiest times.
After his wife Laura played by Marguerite Moreau dies, Ted is so sad to loose her, he carries her ashes to his classes with him to keep her with him. They lived in Chicago but moved to Colorado to be closer to her family, a family that is comprised of an entire bunch of hillbilly-type oddballs. The family wants to just put the ashes in the ground to rest and move on! The professor wants more. He wants meaning. The kin already don't like Ted who is a the smart and heart-broken college-educated-college-teaching professor. Ted keeps seeing visions of his wife likely un-approving, so he steals her ashes from the burial moment over a well in the fores (after tracking them down) and literally runs off with the ashes. He grabs one of their pickup trucks and starts driving to Chicago. The crazy chase ensures. The family now wants him arrested.
Director/writer Jack. C. Newall creates an entertaining movie that is so quirky some might not respond. It's cliche messages are nothing new about appreciating what you have and moving on. Well acted by David Sullivan as professor Ted Daniels overall (though some silliness) who studies life and death and is an expert on cultures. When his wife suddenly dies though, he's not ready for it (who is ever ready but he really was not) His goal? To lay her where he wants, at a museum which was a place that meant a lot to both of them in Chicago, their old home city where they had great memories and where they were the happiest. For her, we see her say, "it was never about tombs or Gods or monuments" - happiness for them was complicated but it was love.
His wife's outspoken sister, off-beat parents and a guy who went on a date with his late wife - once - are trying to chase Ted to get the ashes. Sounds keystone cops-ish? Well, yes but it's also nostalgic throughout. with the interlacing of reminiscent scenes he sees. There are flashbacks to their life that balances it out and the editing works well to weave the past with the present which was needed to give this thing weight. We see they are an interesting couple, well suited for each other and loved each other very much so it's part memorializing, part chase, part hallucination, where the wife, played well by Moreau, comes back as an angelic and warm ghost or hallucination in Ted's mind. The flashbacks show us they had good chemistry and adoration and that makes the film gel. The cinematography adds to the storytelling, blending wide shots into the storyline seamlessly, that take you on the voyage to ensure the film does not get overly quirky to be annoying or silly. Silly at times yes, but not silly enough to the point of no balance that you stop watching. Though, the scenes with the one-time date guy chasing down the husband were too much and well...silly.
Overall, the comedy is there and not there at other times, but we see the move and the nostalgia of the two that means the film well meaning and needed to get us to stay on this crazy yet meaningful road-trip. And I think the name of the film could have been better. Get the connection but not a strong title to grab viewers when choosing with zero knowledge. (And too close to Clooney's Monuments Men when google searching and verbal pitching can cause confusion as people listen with one ear)