Monuments, a new film from writer/director Jack C. Newell, centers on Ted (David Sullivan), a college professor who is struggling to deal with the death of his wife Laura (Marguerite Moreau), while being haunted by her in a very literal way. It's a smart, warm, and reflective film about love, loss, and how to move on after trauma. The film, out today, takes place in a heightened, Twin Peaks kind of world, where most of the characters are strange or "off" in some way, and nobody seems to notice except for Ted. It's also stylistically shot, moving the audience through time and withholding certain bits of key information until it's needed later.
Laura's role in the film is pretty eccentric, too. While she and Ted start out the film as islands of sanity in an insane world, the fact that he begins interacting with her ghost, and that no one else can see her, inevitably makes things weird.
In Monuments, Ted sees his wife's ghost. He can talk to her, ask her questions he doesn't know the answer to, and even physically make contact with her -- but nobody else in the film can, and Ted makes no effort to convince anyone around him of the reality he's dealing with. That can result in everything from some fun comedic moments to a frustrating point where he's jumped by "Howl" (Javier Muñoz), a local yokel who was obsessed with Ted's wife before her death and now harasses him throughout the movie in the hopes of scoring points with Laura's family.
That relationship, like a number of other things in the movie, doesn't play to the traditional Hollywood storytelling formula. When you think it's time for Ted to go all George McFly on the guy and find an untapped well of strength to punch him out, it just...doesn't happen. That makes the final satisfaction at the end of the movie even more powerful, but Moreau was fascinated with the creative choices that go into playing with those expectations.
"Mostly in my own experience of grief, it often has as much un-satisfaction as it does positive resolution, in terms of how you come to accept that it's a reality of life, that loss is," Moreau told ComicBook. "So I liked in the script how the progression of his understanding helps him come to grips with what he does, is having a very difficult time doing."
The script's structure plays into that a little -- it jumps around, starting in one place, then moving forward to the end, and cutting back and forth until the audience and the characters are finally on the same page close to the end. It wasn't always that way, though.
"When I read the script it was linear, and so I knew what was going on," Moreau said with a laugh. "I really was enjoying the fact that when she died, she realized that life was short and she let go a lot. That was really interesting and revealing to me about how much we are living when we're living. It seemed like the writer director was playing with the idea of permission that you give yourself and how much time is wasted when you don't know how long you have."
Monuments is no available On Demand and on Digital.