Being a huge Noomi Rapace fan since the first time I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I’ve been interested in everything else she’s done since. I saw the original trailer of The Monitor, also known as Babycall, and knew it was also one I needed to see. A year later, I was excited that the foreign film made its way to our shores. One thing I wasn’t certain about, however, was what exactly the film was all about. The trailers suggested it was a thriller, but that was about all I could gather.
The film follows Anna (Rapace), a single mother who moves into a new apartment with her young son Anders (Vetle Qvenild Werring). Right away we assume Anna has had some trouble when two child protective officers arrive at the home to make sure Anders is being taken care of properly. We soon learn that Anders was nearly killed by his father and that the mother and son had escaped. As a result, Anna is overprotective and often paranoid, so much to the point she buys a baby monitor so that she can feel comfortable about Anders sleeping in a separate room.
I couldn’t help but think of another role Noomi played in a Danish film called Daisy Diamond. Her character was also called Anna in that film in addition to be a single mother as well. From seeing her as Lisbeth in the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, it was hard to picture her as a mother figure, but she surprises in both films (in more ways than one). What is it about this young lady that makes her portray such tragic characters so convincingly? While she surprisingly does pull off a motherly character well, her character’s in both films are not without a bit of darkness and tragedy of their own.
Anna in The Monitor faces several conflicts. Most important is caring for her son while keeping child protective services at bay. However, once she purchases the baby monitor, strange sounds of a child potentially being killed start coming through the receiver. This causes a stir of worry in Anna’s head. It’s not long before she starts to fear for her and her son’s lives, while also investigating the suspicious transmission. Anna may also be facing an even bigger enemy: herself.
Anna meets an awkward shy guy named Helge (Kristoffer Joner) at the electronics store when she buys the baby monitor. This event brings a new hope into Anna’s life, but at the same time introduces new questions to both Anna and the viewer. I had a hard time fully understanding what was going on from the beginning, but as it played out it only got more complicated. As Anna gets closer to Helge, more of what happens in the film becomes questionable.
This is a movie that might turn many people off. It poses arguably more questions than answers and in the end still may leave one scratching one’s head. However I enjoy a movie that challenges the audience. The film is a dark psychological drama that puts the viewer in the mind of Anna. We see and hear what she does, which is why it can often be confusing. That is perhaps why I found the film fascinating. Anna is a complex character, and the more we get to know her the more layers we begin to uncover.
For a fan of Noomi such as myself, the film is a definite pleasure. She shows versatility while still channeling the damaged and troubled woman that she does unspeakably well. The film’s enigmatic story and characters sucked me in. The pacing lagged a bit at times, which makes it tough with an already mentally straining storyline, but the effectiveness makes it worth it. While there are some loose ends and the rushed explanation at the ending only throws things askew even more, the cerebral suspense and convincing performances in The Monitor offer a thought-provoking and surprisingly shocking experience.