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Film Review: “Monday” Is a Near-Charmless Glimpse into a Charming Summer

Written by: Hannah Tran | April 15th, 2021

Film poster: “Monday”

Monday (Argyris Papadimitropoulos, 2020) 1½ out of 4 stars.

Chloe and Mickey are two thirty-something Americans in Athens. The former is a responsible lawyer about to return home, while the latter is a boyish DJ tethered to the city for reasons beyond its inviting nightlife. But one fateful night, they meet and quickly tangle together, their separate desires challenged by a growing dependence on one another. But in this film where we observe how these troubled lovebirds spend Friday after Friday, Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ Mondayquickly loses hold of the spark that brought these two together.

With its carefully cultivated look and feel, Monday offers all the trappings of a Call Me by Your Name-esque summer romance. Yes, its vaguely ‘80s costumes, scenic European landscapes and sensuality almost too coincidentally check all the boxes. And yet, underneath its inviting surface, something seems to be missing within this inevitably doomed romance. There’s an emptiness, beyond the metaphorical one, that resides within the characters. The direction and romance may feel uninventive if only due to its predictability, but where it most unforgivably falters is in its emotional lifelessness.

l-r: Denise Gough and Sebastian Stan in MONDAY ©IFC Films

Although Sebastian Stan (I, Tonya) and Denise Gough (Colette) are more than capable of filling the shoes of these characters, their displays of affection nearly all feel performative. Whether this is due to the surprisingly detached direction, the writing never exploiting their contrasting personalities enough, or just a simple lack of chemistry between the two is difficult to say. What is certain is that the film struggles to build its stakes upon a relationship we care little for and one we have little faith in. The tensest sequences, such as a work meeting for Mickey or a lunch appointment between Chloe and his ex-girlfriend, are all spent when they’re apart.

For far too much of its runtime, Monday sets up problems without consequences and is too quick to dismiss and forget tension instead of building upon it. While initially intriguing and visually pleasant throughout, the movie’s charm quickly fades into the narrative messiness and forgettable characters. What is made out to be a life-changing odyssey for these two protagonists turns out to be one that both they and the audience likely wish only lasted that one fateful night.

l-r: Denise Gough and Sebastian Stan in MONDAY ©IFC Films

Hannah Tran is a film critic and filmmaker from Las Vegas, Nevada. Hannah works as a film screener for the Las Vegas Film Festival and publishes an independent zine focused on highlighing Asian American filmmaking.

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