Plot, Cast, and Everything We Know
It’s perhaps because of Australia’s unique landscape that its film and television industry is so successful when it comes to fantasy and science fiction. Well known for its idiosyncratic swathe of TV series and sci-fi features – think the madmax franchise1993 eco-thriller-comedy miniseries Rigidor even 1922 Director Zak Hilditch’s 2013 slow-burn apocalyptic science fiction film These last hours — Australian cinema is preparing to produce another film in the same vein with Monolith.
The product of a collaboration between first director Matt Vesely, writer Lucy Campbell, producer Bettina Hamilton and cinematographer Michael Tessari (whose work will soon be seen on the new Netflix series Gymnastics Academy: a second chance), the independent film is being made on a shoestring budget of less than half a million Australian dollars. The film is distributed by Bonsai Films and is supported by Film Lab: New Voices, a new initiative funded by the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC), Adelaide Film Festival (AFF) and Mercury CX designed to nurture new filmmaking talent in the South from Australia. The most intriguing aspect of the film is that it features a single character.
So what awaits moviegoers? Here’s the skinny on this tense and twisty sci-fi flick.
Monolith: the plot
MonolithThe plot centers around the life of a disgraced journalist — we don’t know her name or even exactly what happened to her — who attempts to resuscitate her faltering career by starting a podcast. The contents are luscious and all too full of clickbait to do her much good until she discovers a strange artifact which she takes as evidence of an alien conspiracy.
It may seem impractical to tell such a story on an independent budget, but the filmmakers play to their strengths by turning the physical constraints imposed by the small budget into an advantage. They locate the entire film on a single set with a single character – “the interviewer” – carrying the plot throughout. The confined, almost claustrophobic setting contrasts with the pastoral scenes outside (the film was shot in the Adelaide Hills). He gives Monolith a very unusual atmosphere, more like a locked room mystery than conventional science fiction.
Monolith: the cast
The one and only actor in the film is Australian actress Lily Sullivan. A Queenslander by education, Sullivan got his start in Mental, a 2012 comedy-drama about a family’s nanny whose mother has a nervous breakdown. As one of the teenage daughters of the family, Sullivan does a low-key, capable job in a cast that includes Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee Toni Collette (Muriel’s wedding, The sixth sense), Anthony La Paglia (Without leaving a trace, So I married an ax murderer), and Liev Schreiber, last seen as the lead by Spanish director Paula Ortiz’ Across the river and in the trees earlier this year, and whose turn as Henry Kissinger in Guy Nattiv Golda is highly anticipated (the film is currently in post-production).
But Sullivan first drew attention to his work opposite Timothy Spall (Mr. Turnerharry potter franchise, spencer) in 2015 Suction cupan Australian version of the principle of The biteas the daughter of Spall’s character, an incorrigible trickster.
Sullivan had a supporting role in Daniel Radcliffe’s vehicle Jungle (2017), a true story of an Israeli adventurer who got lost in the Amazon jungle for several weeks in 1981. And she had a starring role in the romantic drama series Picnic at the hanging rock (2018) before landing the female lead role in the film I met a girl, which was picked up by Netflix last year. The film tells the story of a schizophrenic man who embarks on a cross-country journey to meet the woman of his dreams (played by Sullivan), or so he thinks.
All of these productions were Australian, but the steady accumulation of good reviews led Sullivan to take a break from Hollywood. Sullivan’s American debut is slated for next year. She will appear in the fifth part of the evil Dead franchise, Evil Dead Rise, which is tentatively slated for release in theaters in April. Other Sullivan cast members include Alyssa Sutherland (vikings) and Morgan Davies (storm boy). But as one-hander, Monolith offers Sullivan a unique opportunity to show off her acting skills before her introduction to Hollywood.
Filming for Monolith began in late May, and with its limited setting and single actor, the project enjoyed an extremely quick turnaround in post-production. The film will premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival on October 27, 2022, before hitting theaters in Australia. Release dates for European and North American markets have yet to be announced.