Monochrome: The Chromism is an inventive film, which tells the story of a dystopian future wherein a sub-culture of people dubbed only as “the Hues” fight to live and survive amongst the rest of society.
The film begins with a brief introduction to the post-apocalyptic world we’re going to live in for the next hour, via narration from our gruff, lone-ranger protagonist Isaac. This prelude is vague enough to not give too much away at once, but efficiently sets up the world and the scenario of the film, all whilst boasting beautiful, Mad Max-esque locations and vistas (shot beautifully in eponymous monochrome black and white). Whilst the visuals on screen are impressive and a joy to watch, the shots of a rugged, Man with No Name-type survivor traipsing through derelict wasteland evoke thoughts of The Road, Mad Max, and countless other post-apocalyptic, dystopian Science Fiction movies, and makes us wonder if the ride ahead will be fun and exciting, if not slightly predictable and “overdone”. Needless to say, this worry is imminently put to rest.
Without delving too much into spoiler territory (this is the plot, so it goes without saying) – Isaac is revealed to himself be a Hue, which makes an even more fantastic use of the already impressive black and white, by juxtaposing the rest of the dead, cold world around him with his bright and colourful skin. Visually, this works effectively. Thematically, it’s an absolutely brilliant choice and is an excellent opening hook for the audience. Within five minutes though, the film makes a brave move and jumps back a year to before the “incident”, playing the story out in this way.
Whilst I enjoy dystopian road movies as much as anyone, Monochrome: The Chromism stands out over a lot of amateur filmmaking fare for focusing on its heart and soul over anything else, like 1988’s Miracle Mile favouring the romance over the apocalypse itself. Monochrome: The Chromism‘s flashback time jump introduces us to a time before the Hues, and in particular allows the time to get to know Isaac himself, as a man, a friend, and an aspiring husband to the woman he plans to marry. Within less than 20 minutes, we feel invested in his motivations and story, and feel compelled to continue watching. The film jumps between Isaac and his journey and a group of villains who incited the incident in the first place, and whilst the latter plotline was necessary to be shown, I found myself wanting more of Isaac’s more personal moments and how it affected him.
The film runs an hour long and packs a lot into its runtime. The diegetic universe is built up well but not touched upon to an overt amount; the filmmakers have voiced intentions to explore the world in other movies, and this would be greatly beneficial. This doesn’t mean that the film doesn’t stand up on its own, though, and one of my appreciations of it came from its self-contained approach. Writer and director Kodi Zene clearly knows the world well but makes the right decision to keep the story as it what it should be: Isaac’s story.
Zene deserves a lot of credit, in fact: he wrote, directed, shot and co-scored the film (The Terminator inspired opening titles and music deserve their own particular shout out). The credits seem to present quite a skeleton crew for the film, which is impressive for the scope of what it achieves. Having said that, the film always remembers its budget and ambition, and wisely plays a lot of things out on smaller scales. In this way, technically, the film is very well done. The editing is tight, and a lot of the stylish transitions keep the pace punchy and progressive.
All in all, Monochrome: The Chromism is a stylish, classy, emotive and heart filled rendition of the post-apocalyptic genre, which revels as much as in living up to and endorsing the clichés and tropes of the genre as it does subvert them. The performances come across a little wooden and amateur at first, but the more you watch them and the more invested in the characters you get, the performances seem to become more realised. I’d love to see what Zene is capable of on a higher budget and with fewer restrictions, and I’m confident that audiences will connect with this film and allow that to happen.