Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon, from writer and director Ana Lily Amirpour, stars Kate Hudson and Jun Jong Seo in a supernatural gothic tale set in the dark, grimy streets of New Orleans. Despite the horror underpinnings, the film is full of love and hope.
Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon begins in a mental institution, where Mona “Lisa” Lee (Jun Jong Seo) sits in a bare, padded room wrapped in a straitjacket. She uses mind control to overpower the cruel attendant who enters the room. She walks out the front door into the night wearing nothing but the untied straitjacket. There’s a full moon overhead.
She meets people from the underbelly of New Orleans, who are uniformly helpful. It’s the upper classes and the police who are the opposite.
She meets some drunks who give her shoes and tell her to follow the railroad tracks into New Orleans. Outside a convenience store she meets Fuzz (Ed Skrein) and some drug dealers. He buys her snacks and gives her his shirt. He likes her.
She runs into Bonnie (Kate Hudson), a stripper on her way to work. Bonnie buys her a sandwich. When she realizes Mona Lisa has a supernatural power and can compel people to do anything, Bonnie sees dollar signs. (It reminded me so much of Kenzi and Bo in Lost Girl.)
Bonnie takes Mona Lisa home with her. Bonnies’s 10 year old Charlie (Evan Whitten) becomes Mona Lisa’s best friend. She’s been institutionalized most of her life and a precocious child is just what she needs.
Bonnie uses Mona Lisa to rob people at ATM machines and get patrons at her bar to give up all their cash for a lap dance.
There’s a catch to Mona’s ability to mind control. The people she’s doing it to are aware. They think she’s hypnotized them or she’s a demon or whatever. It pisses them off big time when it’s over. She leaves a trail of angry, broke people behind her.
Officer Harold (Craig Robinson) comes onto the scene. He’s trying to capture the escaped mental patient. She mind controls him into shooting himself in the leg. This makes him very determined to catch up with Mona Lisa and put her back in an institution.
The chase is on. Everyone wants to find her and Bonnie and get even. What Mona Lisa and her newfound friends do about it forms the final half of the movie. I’ll save that for you to discover, but know it’s kind of beautiful and full of hope.
Director Ana Lily Amirpour is known for A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. That was another supernatural and dark film that won several awards and brought Amirpour into the horror conversation it a big way. I hadn’t heard much about Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon before I found it on Tubi. I judge it a success and well done. I don’t know why it fell through the cracks, but I think it’s worth seeing.