A trans woman returns home to care for her dying mom–the same dying mom who rejected her years ago–in Monica, a poignant yet maddeningly subtle drama starring Trace Lysette.
To say that Monica really held my attention would be an exaggeration; it’s a bit of slog.
And yet the pieces are here: Trace Lysette gives a powerful and nuanced performance as the title character, the casting of Patricia Clarkson as the mother, and its core a story ripe for conflict and explosion.
The spark just never ignites. Sure, that may not have been the intent of director Andrea Pallaoro but it sure would have been appreciated. Clarkson is good but underutilized; I would have loved to see her let loose to feast on the material. Instead, Monica is left to spar with a character who isn’t there–her mother from a previous time–which means she doesn’t have much to battle against aside from her own past.
That internal conflict may be enough for some, but a more combustible story would have taken Monica to the next level. Sadly, while scene by scene it’s well done, this is one destined to be forgotten.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.