‘Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon’: Telekinetic woman flees in a thriller of striking colors and compelling characters

The supernatural thriller “Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon” opens with a near-comatose woman splayed on the floor of her room in an institution, wearing only a straitjacket as the obligatory Sadistic Attendant verbally and physically mocks and abuses. Clearly, this attendant has not seen movies such as “Terminator 2” and “Kill Bill Vol. 1”; if she had, she’d know she was about to experience some serious pain before the patient escaped.

This bloody and brutal sequence is our introduction to a young woman named Mona Lisa (Jeon Jong-seo), a Korean immigrant who has been held in the “Home for Mentally Insane Adolescents” (that’s what they call it) for some 10 years now, ever since she was 12 years old — and for reasons unexplained, Mona has decided now is the time she’ll put her powers of telekinesis to work. Simply by staring at someone and moving her arms, Mona can make that individual puppet her movements — even if it means they’ll punch themselves in the face, unholster their gun and shoot themselves, you name it. Not that Mona is looking for trouble; she’ll only unleash her powers if you mess with her.

Writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour infuses “Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon” with a visually striking look, neon-saturated tones of reds and blues and greens and deep purples filling the screen as Mona makes her way to New Orleans, with only one goal in mind: staying out of the aforementioned Home for Mentally Insane Adolescents. (“I’m not going back to that place,” becomes her mantra.)

‘Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon’

Her adventures bring her into contact with a number of well-written and colorful characters, including Officer Harold (Craig Robinson), who becomes the Javert to Mona’s Jean Valjean, pursuing her and almost apprehending her time and again; Fuzz (Ed Skrein in a scene-stealing performance), a heavily tattooed drug peddler who talks and acts as if he’s watched James Franco in “Spring Breakers” one too many times, and the New Yawk-sounding, tough-as-nails Bonnie (Kate Hudson), who dances at a strip club on Bourbon Street and takes Mona under her wing, mostly so she can use Mona to rob ATMs and help her commit other crimes.

Ed Skrein steals scenes as a drug peddler with a showy car.

“Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon” plays like a graphic novel come to life. Everything has a heightened sense of color, and the soundtrack pulses with banger tunes and wall-rattling EDM. (Even the interior of Fuzz’s car is decorated and lit like a nightclub on the wrong side of town.)

Mona finds a kindred spirit in Bonnie’s 11-year-old son Charlie (Evan Whitten), an angry and rebellious kid whose mother barely pays attention to him. (“Go to bed,” she says at one point. “I think you got school in the morning.”) As these two misfits plan to escape New Orleans, we find ourselves rooting for Mona to indeed never go back to that horrible place. In the right atmosphere, we can even imagine her learning how to channel her powers for good, like those kids who attend Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, which is a heck of lot more welcoming than the Home for Mentally Insane Adolescents.

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