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Just another manic ‘Monday’

April 19, 2021
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There’s a rush that comes with those first moments of attraction. The spark of electricity that courses from one person to the next, crackling with excitement and sexual anticipation – it’s often the beginning of something far greater. That’s how the movies portray it anyway.

However, just because that fire is burning from minute one does not mean that the relationship has any kind of real future. The reality is that those quick-hit connections often prove to be little more than infatuations, momentary dalliances. But how do you know if this one, this connection, is the one that is meant to be?

That’s the query at the center of “Monday,” a romantic drama directed by Argyris Papadimitropoulos from a script he co-wrote with Rob Hayes. It’s a story of a passionate weekend encounter between two expatriated Americans in Greece that begins to develop into something more, though it’s unclear if that’s the right thing for either of them.

There’s plenty of heat here, plenty of fire – the sex scene-to-runtime ratio here is REALLY high – to go along with the standard relationship struggles. Sure, it’s not always clear why these people are making the choices they are making, but the truth is that the specifics don’t matter – when you’ve got two people as hot for one another as this duo, it’s all about seeing where the fires lead you.

Chloe (Denis Gough, “The Good Traitor”) is an American lawyer living in Greece. She’s been away from the States for 18 months and is heading out for one last raging Friday night before heading back home. She hits the dance floor and moves to the beats being laid down by Mickey (Sebastian Stan, TV’s “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”), a DJ who happens to also be American, said commonality being the sole reason that the two are introduced by charming sketchball Argyris (Yorgos Pirpassopolous, TV’s “Eden”).

What follows is a night of passion that ends in an embarrassingly public place. And yet, despite Chloe’s pending return and Mickey’s devil-may-care arrested development – they fall for each other.

Over the course of a series of leaps forward in time – all Fridays, in an effort to capture the implication of party time’s ending suggested by the title – we watch the evolution of a relationship. Chloe is the stalwart, responsible one, while Mickey is the flighty, hedonistic one – what once was a smooth blend looks on the verge of going full oil-and-water, with bubbling resentments threatening to breach the simmering surface.

(Although don’t worry – the physical side of things is ongoing. Honestly, it had been a while since I saw a movie with this many distinct sex scenes in it. I lost count at one point, but it had to be half-a-dozen. This isn’t a condemnation, necessarily – tough to argue against the effectiveness with regard to the couple’s sexual chemistry – but it definitely felt gratuitous in some spots.)

Finding the strength to make a tough relationship work is difficult, but one could argue that finding the strength to end a relationship that no longer works is even more difficult. The people at the center of “Monday” play that struggle out, with argumentative toxicity and sexual dynamism and ebbing/flowing communication.

Codependence is a hell of a drug. So many of us have found ourselves trapped by it at some point in our lives. To need a person so unhealthily, to have so much of ourselves tied up in another – it’s not good for you. And it can turn ugly very quickly. “Monday” occasionally seems as though it is going to address that reality, only to awkwardly leapfrog it or else throw in another sex scene.

There’s room for a film that wants to talk about the poison that can come from dysfunctional relationships. Sure, we’ve seen that story before, but there are likely still interesting ways to tell it. But “Monday” proves content to coast, giving us a generic version of the tale rather than anything new.

And it’s too bad, because there are some things to like here. The setting is of course gorgeous; the film is packed with shots set against the magnificent and beautiful backdrop of Greece. The lead couple is both attractive and talented. Just those things alone should be enough to ensure a quality film, but this one simply can’t live up to the promise of those pieces.

A lot of the blame lands on the script. There’s precious little in there that gives the audience any clue as to why this couple stays together. Even with the time leaps, there’s just no nuance to any of the storytelling. The connection between Chloe and Mickey is inconsistent, leaving us wondering if they even like each other, let alone love each other. Their development is shallow and uneven; we’re asking far more questions than we are receiving answers. Frankly, there’s no one in this movie that’s really worth hanging out with.

Now, the places where “Monday” works, it works. And that’s primarily due to the work being done by Stan and Gough. While the script muddies the specifics of the relationship, these two still find ways to create moments, even if those moments are fleeting. Both succumb to the screenplay in spots, but far less frequently than they might have. They have a real chemistry that one wishes was set loose within the confines of a better movie.

I didn’t dislike this movie, really. But I didn’t really like it either. It’s one of those films that makes for an agreeable enough passing of the time and not much else. Not good enough to love, not bad enough to loathe – it’s far from a great film, but not even Garfield could muster up the gumption to hate this “Monday.”

[2.5 out of 5]

Last modified on Monday, 19 April 2021 11:13

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