While we’re at it, what happened to my Friday night last week?
Netflix has quickly become a powerhouse when it comes to producing original content, and may quickly pose a serious threat to traditional movie studios. It still has a ways to go though as consistency has proven to be its biggest obstacle in its desperation to expand. It’s come a long way from the Netflix that carefully only chose the finest content to back.
One of their newest additions to their catalog is the dystopian film What Happened to Monday. A movie that relies heavily on its lead, Noomi Repace, who plays not one, not two, but seven characters in the film. Of course, she isn’t the only recognizable star to be featured, as she is joined by Willem Dafoe (who has been working pretty closely with Netflix recently) and Glenn Close. All in all, a very impressive cast. But is it one that is used to its full potential?
What Happened to Monday takes place in a future where overpopulation has led to a major depletion of resources. Enter Glenn Close, a raising politicians that takes a cue from China by encouraging the implementation of a one child law. Siblings are frozen to be revived when resources have had a chance to recover, which is essentially a “we’ll deal with it later” policy. The problem is when Willem Dafoe’s daughter happens to pass away giving birth to 7 daughters, which he creatively named after every day of the week. Allowing each to leave the house on their given day and having all assume a shared identity manages to keep them safe… For a time.
When I say the film relies heavily on its lead, I mean that it places every bet on her to carry it. To convey the overrun future featured, director Tommy Wirkola (who I am a big fan of from his work on Dead Snow) creates an almost claustrophobic environment. Which is great as a thematic element, but doesn’t leave much room for other characters when there are 7 Repace’s running around. Luckily, Repace is a talented actress. Unluckily, she’s not a character actress. This means that many of the characters blend together, and not just because they are septuplets. At least half the days are easily forgettable, and the primary ones only stand out because of distinct physical features (hair color, style, etc).
The story itself is simple enough as the sisters set out to find the missing Monday, who disappeared without a trace. What really makes the film memorable is its devotion to gritty action sequences. Repace is put through the wringer as she is chased by men with guns and forced to fight for her life non-stop. The mystery itself is fairly easy to unravel even before the clues start to fall into place, but that’s not where the heart of the movie lies. Instead, it invests everything in its gimmick, which almost pays off. Of course, attached to this gimmick is a theme about self-identity and sister hood, which is a little heavy handed, but appropriate none the less.
Overall What Happened to Monday plays like a Saturday night B-movie that has a more notable cast than it deserves. The talent it has access to though is unable to help it become greater than the sum of its parts. It’s not that it’s a bad movie, in fact, it’s quite enjoyable for the most part. But the story, cinematography, and pacing are all just too bland to make it’s casting worthwhile. There’s no spice to the movie, only a fun gimmick that manages to get old a little too quickly.
I’m not here to tell people not to watch this Netflix Original, just to offer a warning that it never manages to achieve greatness. Still, in the age of live streaming achieving pretty goodness is nothing to be ashamed of. What Happened to Monday is essentially a good movie to watch after a long day at work, but it’s not something to waste your Friday or Saturday night on.