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  • Writer's picturePerrin Faerch

Review: Monday (2021)

Updated: May 15, 2021

Monday is Greek director Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ fourth feature-length, his follow-up to his most well-received film Suntan (2016). It follows two Americans - Mickey (Sebastian Stan) and Chloe (Denise Gough), where they meet at a party Mickey is DJing at. One thing leads to another, with them waking up naked on a beach together. However, they find themselves wanting to extend this night of passion into a fully-fledged relationship, one with which the film attempts to dissect. Taking place over what I can only assume is a number of years, Monday opts to have us drop in on them on Fridays instead of the film’s namesake day, letting us dread the implications of what the inevitable Monday will bring to their story.

Papadimitropoulos, along with co-writer Rob Hayes, choose to show us their dynamics only on these specifically chosen Fridays, snapshots out of their relationship. Only showing us how they behave around each other during the weekend is interesting, essentially extending the one-night stand through a relaxed party-like atmosphere of drinking and endless sex, far removed from the usual stresses and mundane-ness of the weekdays. As the film goes on, that initial passion isn’t quite as strong but it still lingers, only to have toxic behaviours rearing their ugly heads for both of them to see and hopefully learn from.

When you make a film about any kind of relationship, it’s absolutely vital in showing us more of who they are and what makes them tick. The film makes a big point of telling us that it is a Friday whenever we jump ahead in their relationship, never telling us the exact date or time, just that it's a Friday. By making such a big point in reminding us of the day, the film struggles in trying to show us the significance of this day. Sure, it is a day that they met on. Sure, it's implying that it's essentially just a long one-night stand that is not really good for either of them, but when you give us more of the same on such a regular basis, we stop caring about the significance of it as well as losing interest in what Monday will probably mean for them. We learn so very little about them, not giving us any real chance in making a case for why they should be together and why they shouldn't. I understand why they possibly chose to do this though; they want to highlight the fact that their relationship appears to be nothing more than an extension of that night, with nothing else going on other than the initial burning attraction. It could've worked as a short film, but with a run-time of nearly two hours, Monday feels like it can't tie its setup and inevitable finale together as the film wanders aimlessly in circles until its time is finally up.

It’s incredibly hard for performers of any caliber to salvage characters like Mickey and Chloe, and although the leads of Sebastian Stan and Denise Gough are decent enough on their own, their lack of believable chemistry between them in scenes together, really hurts the film's chances of allowing you to actually believe these two could ever hook up. They are also never really challenged and offered much in their dynamic with each other, with only sex and the very, very rare occasion of an insightful conversation (or argument) offering any sort of chance for them to truly uncover the flaws and strengths of their characters. There is almost no compelling conflict found in the film for us to want to stick around, and although films shouldn’t necessarily rely on conflict alone through cause and effect, relationship movies need it to truly explore both sides to the coin and actually make our eavesdropping worth our time and allow us to reflect on ourselves as well. We are supposed to care if they fail or succeed as a couple, but Monday never really gives them a chance to win us over. Sometimes we aren't supposed to like characters, but relationship films need characters that have some sort of likable and admirable qualities, ones you can relate to and understand, further pushing you to pick sides and ultimately route for or against them. The rare moment of individual self-reflection is scattered about, painting potentially explosive scenes of much-needed insight and confrontation between Mickey and Chloe. But these moments aren't given the chance to really ignite and deliver the power and punch it could have on their relationship and themselves. Instead, they're tucked away for a finale that barely makes use of these moments and their significance in the grand scheme of things, demoting them down to a mere footnote.

In what is easily the best and potentially movie-saving scene of Monday, Chloe meets with Mickey’s ex. It’s a scene that finally creates some meaningful conflict and insight into the complexities of Chloe and Mickey’s personal life, but soon after that, we return to the attitude that the writers seem to be opting for and that is “Ah who cares, let’s see more sex”. It's possibly intentional for this attitude to be kept among them, as it further stokes the meaninglessness of their relationship, but it's such a lost opportunity in really exploring the very notions of what makes these people who they are.

Unfortunately, the dreaded Monday portion of the film sneaks up on us in the most lazily conceived way possible. It feels like the writers only thought of the beginning and the end of the story, with absolutely no idea of how to tie the two big moments together. What happens feels completely irrational, out-of-character and totally unearned. They had plenty of opportunities to further justify and strengthen their inevitable choices through important character and plot beats, but they just never took advantage of it. It feels as though the writers genuinely hate their characters, making them implode through braindead stupidity that completely tears us away from ever wanting to relate to them.

Monday would’ve worked far better as a 25-minute-or-so short, giving us brief glimpses into this hollow relationship still riding off the back of a passionate one-night-stand. Instead, we are subjected to nearly two hours of inane nothingness that barely has anything to say at all. Basically, Monday is a film that lives up to its namesake: it starts off promising, only to have it get progressively crappier the longer it drags itself out, leaving you unsatisfied and questioning why you even bothered in the first place.

Where you can watch it: Most VOD platforms (USA)

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