THE STORY – When Mickey is introduced to Chloe one hot summer night in Athens, the attraction between the pair is immediately palpable — so palpable that before they know it they’re waking up naked on the beach on Saturday morning.
THE CAST – Sebastian Stan & Denise Gough
THE TEAM – Argyris Papadimitropoulos (Director/Writer) & Rob Hayes (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 116 Minutes
By Nicole Ackman
You have to wonder how Disney feels about Sebastian Stan’s new film, the wild and sexy “Monday,” releasing on the same day as a new episode of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” in which he plays one of the titular characters. Directed by Argyris Papadimitropoulos, the film charts the relationship of a couple drawn together by an immediate spark. Still, they struggle to hold onto their relationship as it becomes increasingly toxic. It’s a hedonistic film on the surface, filled with alcohol, parties, and sex, but it’s also a fascinating tale of the way two people’s self-destructive natures cause their relationship to fall apart.
“Monday” opens with one of its many party scenes, filled with bright lights, loud music, and hand-held camera movement. It’s enough to make the audience feel as if they, too, are drunk. Chloe (Denise Gough) is an American woman in Greece, reeling from a breakup, who catches Mickey’s attention (Sebastian Stan), a laid-back American DJ. His obnoxious friend, party host Argyris (Yorgos Pirpassopoulos), introduces them, and within moments, they’re making out. Minutes later, they’re waking up on the beach the following day, completely naked and getting taken into the police station.
What follows is a whirlwind weekend romance against the gorgeous scenery of Greece. Chloe, a freelance immigration lawyer, only has a few days before returning to the United States. Mickey is determined to make the most of their time together. The attraction between the two is palpable, not only in their multiple sex scenes but also as he cuts the legs off of a pair of his pants to make shorts for her while giving her his clothes to wear (something that shouldn’t be erotic, but somehow is in this film).
Of course, as the title of the movie indicates, the close to their perfect beach weekend threatens their momentary bliss. Cue a staple trope of romantic comedies: Mickey running through the airport to convince Chloe not to go back to the United States. This film differentiates itself because this scene would typically come at the end of the movie, but here it appears only a half-hour in. Screenwriters Papadimitropoulos and Rob Hayes upend many of the clichés of a romantic film, even as they seem to play into them. What “Monday” is more interested in is the fallout after the grand romantic gesture, as two very different individuals have to try to make their relationship work in the real world.
In the second act, the film delves into more serious topics. Mickey has stayed in Greece so long, partially because he has a young son that he wants to try to get partial custody of. When an old bandmate visits, the way that he abandoned his burgeoning music career is revealed, and it begins to become clear that he has a tendency to ruin anything that is going too well. Meanwhile, Chloe seems to be throwing her energy into making things work with Mickey to avoid processing a lousy breakup while also trying to continue her own career amid his chaos.
It becomes readily apparent that the pair are wildly different people. He cares too little about most things, from appeasing his clients to learning Greek, whereas she cares too much. He’s an overgrown man-child, but she struggles to express herself. For those who love the romantic pairing of a structured type-A woman and a chaotic man, this film definitely delivers — while also reminding us of the reasons that these pairings often don’t work out in real life. One thing the film does well is showing how both Chloe and Mickey contribute to the downfall of the relationship, rather than placing the blame entirely on one of them.
The film isn’t without its faults, including a slightly too long runtime. Sometimes, Mickey’s immature friends’ antics border on annoying, though the dinner party scene in which they clash with Chloe’s more refined friends is humorous. The ending of the film is sudden and ambiguous and might annoy some viewers.
What really makes the film work are the charismatic performances from both Gough and Stan. Perhaps best known for her Olivier Award-winning performance in “Angels in America,” Gough is capable of showing so much emotion swirling beneath the surface even in more restrained scenes. It’s great to see her in this romantic lead role, as she perfectly brings Chloe to life. Meanwhile, Stan has the right kind of charm to make Mickey so likable that the audience can overlook his red flags just as Chloe does at the beginning of the film (and yes, how hot he helps too). Stan’s fans truly aren’t ready for some of his scenes in this film, from cooking in his underwear to playing the keyboard and singing.
Throughout the film, there are recurring title cards that say “Friday,” continually setting the stage for the weekend’s beginning. The reckoning of Monday’s coming looms throughout the whole film. This movie isn’t for everyone, but for those who enjoy seeing how an ill-fated relationship falls apart and how two people can be wrong for each other despite having great chemistry (and for anyone who also relates to the line, “I will have to fix it like everything else”), “Monday” is an intriguing and steamy film.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Both Stan and Gough deliver charismatic performances in this wild ride of a film that is equally tragic and erotic.
THE OSCARS – None