Over a series of wild weekends, Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ Monday depicts a relationship that may feel exasperating and refreshing in equal measure.
Director Argyris Papadimitropoulos loves the idea of a ‘rom-com gone wrong’. The beginning of a relationship is such an exhilarating time. The intensity is cranked up to eleven, you can’t keep your hands off each other, and every moment with them is new and exciting. But the gleam does eventually fade, and Monday sets out to show the realistic come-down from those first few love-drunk weeks.
One summer night in Athens, Greece, lawyer Chloe (Denise Gough) meets DJ Mickey (Sebastian Stan) at a party. After a drunken night together, the pair wake up naked on the beach, police officers looming over them and surrounded by horrified sunbathers and frolicking families. Not the most auspicious start, granted, but the pair hit it off and enjoy a whirlwind weekend of sex and partying ahead of Chloe heading back home to the US. Realising he’s not ready to lose her just yet, Mickey makes a mad dash to the airport, and soon they’re giving it a proper go: moving in together, assimilating their friend groups, navigating each other’s emotional baggage, and trying to turn a wild fling into a romance with longevity.
Monday hinges on the idea that two people form an immediate connection, so blinded by lust and infatuation that they dive head-first into a relationship. But that palpable chemistry isn’t entirely convincing at the beginning, and so the film takes a while to feel authentic and less like a montage of a couple kissing and shagging everywhere in sight. Instead, the connection between the pair is much more believable as the relationship starts to wear in, and in turn wear on them. Both leads give great performances, carrying the somewhat bloated film from its rocky beginning right to the bittersweet end. Stan crafts Mickey as a seemingly charming, care-free DJ who excites Chloe so much that she sacrifices a job opportunity in America to stay with him in his shabby apartment, before slowly revealing that Mickey struggles with ambition and selfishness; is more akin to drinking with his buddies and having a good time than truly working for the important things in his life.
In contrast, there’s a real sense of desperation in Gough’s performance, of her clinging to this relationship she’s thrown herself into, in the hopes of having it truly mean something. If it weren’t such an abhorrent phrase, one might describe Chloe as a ‘hot mess’. Alongside co-writer Rob Hayes, Papadimitropoulos introduces Chloe as an intelligent, successful lawyer with hints of an alcohol problem and an abusive past relationship, but don’t develop these aspects of her character in any meaningful way. Everything is so tangled up in the dizzying, chaotic whirlwind that is her all-consuming relationship with Mickey, that the film is about ChloeandMickey the couple, rather than Chloe and Mickey as individuals.
The aforementioned ‘rom-com gone wrong’ idea is pretty apt. As Chloe and Mickey find themselves hurtling further into domesticity, the film really emphasises how much one might get swept up and throw their lot in with someone that perhaps isn’t everything they expected. A stand out scene is the party thrown with the intention of integrating their friendship groups. It’s an unmitigated disaster, with the career-driven, mature, sophisticated-meets-snobbish friends of Chloe completely clashing with Mickey’s group of loud, brash, debauched pals. There are many red flags, but it may well be a case of one’s attitude to this kind of exhibitionist, alcohol and drug-fuelled, wild rollercoaster type of relationship as to whether Chloe staying with Mickey is relatable or infuriating.
Monday is an intimate film, stylistically and physically, and embodies the up-and-down nature of the relationship. Cinematographer Christos Karamanis’ camera fluctuates between being right in the thick of Chloe and Mickey’s emotionally intense moments of closeness, to being at a remove as they fight and struggle with connection. The sun-drenched, bright and loud beginning fades into the more muted minutiae of everyday life as a couple. Taking place over a series of weekends, the film heightens to its sharpest point as Chloe and Mickey undertake one last wild Friday night before the harsh realities of the titular Monday roll around.
The film ends on a note that, once again, depending on the attitude brought to it, may seem hopeful or tragic. While good performances manage to negate the narrative quibbles within the film, the turbulent relationship won’t be for everyone. Monday comes with a bump after some tumultuous weekends, and while it certainly isn’t a romance for the ages, one may well connect to the trials and tribulations of keeping that summer romance going through the other three seasons.
Monday will be available to watch in US theaters and on demand from April 16, 2021.