Stars: Noomi Rapace, Glenn Close, Willem Dafoe
Released 18th August 2017 (UK) Screened at Locarno Film Festival 2017
Reviewer: Luke Walkley
N.B. I apologise in advance, I think I ask more questions in this review than I give answers.
‘What Happened To Monday’ a.k.a ‘Seven Sisters’ is the latest film from ‘Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters’ Director Tommy Wirkola and stars Noomi Rapace as seven identical sisters born in a not-too-distant future where over-population and food shortages have led to a worldwide one child policy.
Monitored by the Child Allocation Bureau, led by Nicolette Cayman (Glenn Close), any siblings born following the policy are taken by the bureau to be cryogenically frozen until the population returns to a normal level. After Terrence Settman (Willem Dafoe) takes guardianship of his seven granddaughters, he decides to take them and live in secret, rather than hand in 6 of the siblings. He names each one after a day of the week and trains them to live as one person, Karen Stettman. The sisters are free to be who they want within the confines of their home, but on each of their days, they must assume the identity of Karen and venture outside. This all seems to be working until one day, Monday doesn’t return.
And breathe…that was the first thing that came to mind when the credits rolled after ‘What Happened To Monday’. I had so many questions that needed an answer.
To begin at quite literally the beginning, the title. Was the title supposed to be ‘What Happened To Monday’ in the sense that it’s re-telling of the events that happened to one of the characters, or is it supposed to be ‘What Happened To Monday?’ (with added question mark) seeing as the vast majority of the film’s two-hour plus run-time revolves around the remaining siblings trying to work out what has happened to their sister Monday. It seems that nobody knows for sure as various sites are listing it under both. However based on the poster above, it’s the former ‘What Happened To Monday’ which is in essence, incorrect.
Grammatical confusion aside, the whole concept of the film, while intriguing at first glance, unravels quickly. The reason for Dafoe’s character gong up against the Bureau doesn’t really make sense. Especially when we see the ridiculously over the top repercussions that ensue. This leads onto another major issue, why the ridiculous level of security? Sure the one child policy has been enforced for some 30+ years and yet, all citizens are required to wear a bracelet that is scanned at every point during the day; when going to work, buying food, even entering their own homes. We see armed guards across the city and all for what purpose? To stop potential siblings moving around? It’s overkill to a ridiculous degree.
On a positive note, Noomi Rapace has done a decent job of portraying seven different personalities on screen. There’s no way that could be easy so props to her for that. The reason that the performance can’t save the film then, is down to the sheer pointlessness of it all. As mentioned each character has their own unique traits and personas, this has helped them create the single entity Karen Stettman and ensure that she has a good job in the city. The idea of a hive mind, seven brains are better than one etc etc. Yet as soon as the action kicks in, all the emphasis switches, there’s almost no mourning of loss or injury. Despite having only been able to access the outside world for one day a week for the last 20-something years, they’re somehow capable of fantastic feats of fighting. One of the characters has managed to keep a secret relationship going one day a week. It’s almost blissfully unaware of it’s own ridiculousness and that’s what made it so frustrating to watch.
Even Glenn Close’s character is a stereotypical non-villain, believing that she is carrying out everything for the ‘good of mankind’ Willem Dafoe doesn’t really have enough screentime before he’s only seen in flashbacks – there’s no mention of what I assume was his death. It’s these channels that should have been explored more, to allow the viewer to have some actual emotional connection to those concerned. Instead you’re left checking your watch waiting for the film to end. Which it does eventually, but not before one more obvious action movie cliche.
Perhaps ‘What Happened To Monday (?)’ is the reason film fans have concerns about online streaming platforms such as Netflix? ‘What Happened To Monday (?)’ will launch directly there on the 18th August and the film has the feel of something that had more money than sense.
‘What Happened To Monday’ was a clever concept ruined by it’s overly complicated, overly-cliched and frankly boring delivery.