Some films have a profound message in the gaps between their 24 frames a second, and some just want to show you a damn good time. Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon spirits up a woozy vibe that thrills for every second and leaves you floating on air, delivering the same sweet irresistibility of a banging pop song you put on repeat.

Some films would waste time explaining the mechanics of their premise, but that would just kill the mood for Amirpour. Mona Lisa can hypnotise people, she’s just escaped from a high security facility, and she doesn’t want to go back. What more do you need to know?

Jeon Jong-seo is great as Mona Lisa, conveying a primal urge for freedom and a longing for connection. But although it’s her name in the title, she and her powers are just one small piece of the puzzle as a rogue’s gallery of crooks and cops tangle through the New Orleans night.

Ed Skrein is a delight as a laidback drug dealer/DJ, and Craig Robinson is great value as a cop leading the shambolic hunt for Mona Lisa. The real stars though are Kate Hudson as stripper Bonnie, and Evan Whitten as her son Charlie. Their combative relationship complicates exactly how she chooses to ‘help’ Mona Lisa, with Charlie providing the film’s moral compass. Every single character is vivid and lived in, grounding this carefree caper just enough.

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon is a film to let wash over you. Pawel Pogorzelski’s opulent cinematography drags you into this seedy night of chaos, and the brilliant soundtrack skips along like the best DJ in town. Ultimately this is Amirpour’s show, directed with verve and confidence. It’s not a complicated story but she tells it well, delivering one of the most purely entertaining pop thrillers around.



CAST: Jeon Jong-seo, Kate Hudson, Evan Whitten, Ed Skrein, Craig Robinson

DIRECTOR: Ana Lily Amirpour

WRITER: Ana Lily Amirpour

SYNOPSIS: A girl with unusual powers escapes from a mental asylum and tries to make it on her own in New Orleans.