Monsoon (2018)

Writer-Director Miguel Duran’s “Monsoon” is one of the most beautiful dramas I’ve seen all year. In a sub-genre that’s often either overly exploitative or tends to be silly, “Monsoon” is a restrained and very subtle tale about loss, love, and trying to find the need to move on with your life. I knew very little about “Monsoon” going in, so suffice it to say I was taken completely by surprise. Miguel Duran really delivers a gem that audiences confronting the death of a loved one would be wise to see. “Monsoon” is a riveting and just downright heavy drama about death and the beauty of life, and I was sucked in from minute one.

Set in Arizona, John is preparing to go to college during the summer and is having a very hard time letting go of his childhood sweetheart and best friend Sarah. After spending time together realizing that their days are finite, tragedy strikes suddenly. Now with John overcome with grief over the loss of Sarah, he has to figure out if he wants to move on and face the world, or if he wants to stay where he is and cling to the best days of his life. Things become even more complicated when he learns to relate to his ailing grandmother (Eve Plumb is great), and meets a young bold girl name Caitlyn he realizes he’s developing feelings for.

Duran’s direction is stellar as he manages to depict the world and life as something absolutely awe inspiring, even when it’s absolutely cruel. Duran pulls top notch performances from his entire cast including Austin Lyons whose turn as John is downright gut wrenching. Lyons carries the film with his depiction of a young man who simply has no idea how to move forward and deep down may not even want to. He’s brilliant in his representation of the fear individuals get when they think moving on from a tragedy means forgetting the people we lost. You can feel every single inch of John’s pain and torment, right down to his mental break, which is depicted as bittersweet with shades of “Ordinary People.”

Duran keeps the appearance of a key element in John’s life ambiguous, never quite confirming what it is John is experiencing until the very end. But Duran makes sure to capture every moment of the interaction heartfelt but soul crushing, especially in a scene where John plays in the middle of a rain storm. Along with Lyons, the entire cast are top notch including co-stars Katherine Hughes, and Yvette Monreal. “Monsoon” is very much a film that’ll put the audience through the wringer; I was especially on the edge of tears in the finale, but through and through it’s a wonderful drama about life that asks the hard questions about death and grief, while never giving easy answers.

Now available on Video On Demand.