Mickey (Sebastian Stan) and Chloe (Denise Gough) don’t particularly have much of a Meet Cute. In Monday, writer-director Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ smartly-acted romantic-drama, nobody trips over a dog-leash or slapstick falls in a fountain; nobody bats their eyes across an ice-cream sundae. No, Mickey and Chloe meet when a friend literally smashes their faces together at a party, telling them they are a man and a woman and they should probably do something about that. And so, like many a heterosexual before them, they do.
They do so for a long string of Fridays after, and we know it because the word “Friday” pops up on the screen several times—each time signaling more strobe-light benders, all the better to push off the flat sun of weekdays for as hard and as long as conceivable. In this place the film’s title is a threat; Mondays stand as a warning of the sort of mouthwash reality Mickey and Chloe want to keep at bay for as long as they possibly can. To say they bond in mutual self-destruction is perhaps a harder hardcore than this mild-flavored movie’s aiming for. We’re not talking Sid & Nancy here. Still, they surely feed off each other’s more distractible angels.
But isn’t that what infatuation is? A wild flapping of the hands in one direction so’s the eyes keep busy over there, off of the bad stuff, where a “Sex on the Beach” isn’t just a happy beverage. So Mickey and Chloe flap their hands in all kinds of places. Monday, it must be said, is one horny ride. Seconds after getting their faces smashed together, they’re willfully doing the same of their own accord, and they don’t let up for a good while. They freely and enthusiastically hump their way across the bedrooms and back-alleys of Athens, where these two American ex-pats have been wiling away their mid-30s separately, now together, for probably far too long.
Indeed, Monday pointedly has that feeling, time and again, of staying too long at the party. Stan and Gough have hot chemistry and they wield it in service of two characters, who maybe should have stayed at opposite sides of the room. All rooms. Perhaps the globe, even. But chemistry, that gawky monstrous thing gee golly damn it all to hell, is never thinking about the Monday mornings. It sparks and fuel and fire, not filing taxes or fitting couches through smallish door-frames. Chemistry is a fuck on a flat-bed truck, and Monday in its more spirited moments really captures those be-all-end-all drunk-on-touch seat-of-pants sensations.
It’s tempting to say Monday, having been filmed way back in the pre-COVID days of 2019, has the feel of a period film now just two years later, with its steady stream of basement parties, steamed up with rich strange saliva all seeming an echo from a distant plague-less world. Or perhaps, as an oft-enthusiastic boink-fest, it could instead be read as a generous promise (and warning) of our post-plague future: the place where we’re all vaccinated and immediately willing eager and able to smash our mouths onto the first gorgeous stranger we meet. But really, and to the film’s benefit, I think Monday comes off the most concerned with the ambiguous middle spot, the too intimate quarantine place we’re really all currently most familiar with (the one on the tip of every Pandemic Divorcee’s tongue), where testing the limits of one another’s crazy has become a fateful game of chicken, served hot and fresh for two.
Monday opens in Select Theaters, on VOD and digital on April 16.
Epidemiologists do not think it’s safe yet to go to theaters even with social distancing and safety measures in place. This review of a theatrical release is not an endorsement or suggestion otherwise. This film was reviewed via a screening link.
Image sources (in order of posting): IFC Films,