Sebastian Stan and Denise Gogh star in MondayTWITTER/ERIKDAVIS

Timing is an important part of how you perceive a movie. If you’re not in the right mood or in the right place in your life when you watch a film, even the greatest masterpieces can fall flat. Conversely, sometimes the films you least expect to entertain you can be just the thing you need at that time — raising a good or mediocre film to a great one in your mind.

“Conversely, sometimes the films you least expect to entertain you can be just the thing you need at that time”

This is how I feel about Monday. At the time of watching Monday, I had spent nearly six months at home, unable to return Cambridge thanks to COVID, the lockdown, and an unexpectedly expired passport. My friends were at university, I rarely left my bedroom, and my phone was my only link to the outside world. In short, I was drowning in loneliness, starved for socialization, adventure, and fun. It should come as no surprise then that, with its story of two Americans finding love in Greece, filled with scenes of people partying the night away, embracing recklessness and spontaneity, Monday proved to be exactly what I needed.

Playing out over a series of weekends, Monday depicts the tumultuous relationship of Chloe (Denise Gough) and Mickey (Sebastian Stan). The two meet at a party where Mickey is DJ-ing and Chloe is reeling from her recent break up; a mutual friend brings them together and as music blares, lights flash, and the crowd dances around them, Chloe and Mickey kiss and run off into the night. The next thing we see: the two of them caught naked on the beach, swiftly escorted to a police station. In the back of a police car, after a night of partying and hook ups, Mickey and Chloe finally introduce themselves, attraction blossoming in the strangest of places.

Director Argyris Papadimitropoulos imbues every party scene with electrifying energyTWITTER/ERIKDAVIS

It is these chaotic and romantic elements where Monday is most successful, particularly in the first half of the film. Director Argyris Papadimitropoulos imbues every party scene (and there are a lot) with electrifying energy, an almost tangible pulse as bodies weave in front of the camera and neon lights bask the actors in pinks, blues, and greens, music pounding from speakers. Indeed, the cinematography throughout takes full advantage of the beauty of Greece, enveloping the viewer in graffiti-lined streets and endless oceans. The slower moments are brief but earnest and charming; Mickey “cooking and crying” over onions as he prepares a birthday dinner for Chloe, or Chloe teaching Mickey a song in Greek, watching over his shoulder as he plays the piano. It is in these sweet, earnest moments that Mickey and Chloe’s relationship comes alive.

“Even for a film about superficial, physical relationships, Monday suffers from an excessive amount of sex scenes.”

However, there are weaknesses in the portrayal of this romance. Even for a film about superficial, physical relationships, Monday suffers from an excessive amount of sex scenes — practically every interaction between Mickey and Chloe ends with intimacy. While intimacy can be an effective storytelling device, of the numerous scenes in Monday few add anything to the story or the understanding of the characters, ultimately becoming gratuitous, objectifying, and a chore to watch.

Nevertheless, despite the occasional flatness and over-sexualization of their relationship Stan and Gough make the most of their characters. Sebastian Stan is effortlessly charming as Mickey, endearing the audience to a well-meaning character that is nonetheless juvenile and terrified of life’s responsibilities. Denise Gough presents a foil to Stan’s carefree Mickey, successful and initially pragmatic, and does much of the emotional heavy-lifting as Chloe deals with the fallout of her previous (seemingly abusive) relationship, an unplanned pregnancy, and her stagnant career as an immigration lawyer. As the film progresses both actors also reveal their characters’ flaws, showing how difficult it will be for their relationship to survive if Mickey refuses to grow up and Chloe cannot come to terms with her own rapidly changing life.

Practically every interaction between Mickey and Chloe ends with intimacyTWITTER/THEFILMSTAGE

Unfortunately, as Monday progresses the characters’ flaws are also where trouble crops up. Unlikeable protagonists can still be entertaining, but as Mickey and Chloe’s relationship becomes increasingly fraught both characters become so bitter and irresponsible that they are more embarrassing than engaging. Indeed, their volatile fights and drunken antics threaten to reduce them to entitled Americans carousing around Greece like it’s their personal playground. The fault, then, comes down to weak writing, undercutting the beautiful visuals and effort behind the actors’ performances, resulting in a film with a promising start but dissatisfying, uneven conclusion.

Yet for all its flaws, when I watched Monday from my progressively stifling bedroom, I found that I craved the excess, the chaos, and the affectionate — if ultimately troubled — romance flashing by on the screen. For a brief two hours it was as if the world of lockdowns and isolation were a distant memory, and I basked in the frenzied bacchanal of Greece’s expat and party culture. While it may not be a great film, Monday provides a much-needed escape.


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