What Happened to Monday is a french film whose distribution rights were recently acquired by Netflix, continuing the trend of the company producing excellent TV series and documentaries while spectacularly failing to produce fictional films of even moderate quality. Much like Netflix’s earlier sci-fi original film Spectral, What Happened to Monday sees all its creative energy invested in special effects and lavish set pieces while taking the plot off the back of a napkin. Netflix seems to be falling into the traditional Hollywood trap of viewing science fiction as nothing more than a delivery vehicle for fantastic visuals. Even mediocre science fiction is meant to say something about humanity, and it is here that What Happened to Monday commits its greatest sin; by the end of the film all the themes presented fall flat, leaving the viewer to wonder just what message they were meant to walk away with.
What Happened to Monday is part Soylent Green, part Children of Men, and part Logan’s Run,
but is a pale shade of all three. In a future world where overpopulation has lead to near totalitarian rule in England, families are only allowed one child. If any “siblings” are found to exist they are placed in cryogenic suspension until some unspecified point in the future when the population density has come down. If that sounds suspicious it’s because it is, and the entire conspiracy involving that bit of lie will be unveiled in the closing act thanks to the greatest secret in human history being concealed behind a room with floor-to-ceiling windows and minimal security – such is the script writing we are subjected to.
The story revolves around Willem Dafoe’s seven identical grandchildren, whom he inherits after the death of his daughter. He names each after a day of the week and decides to raise them in secret. The girls each share one life, with each allowed to go out on their day of the week, each sharing the same career. The story kicks off when Monday doesn’t return from work. With no other option, Tuesday goes to work and is promptly arrested by population control. Wednesday then goes out to rescue her... you can see where this goes. The days of the week are crossed off almost as fast as the protagonists until we reach the end of the movie and discover that What Happened to Monday was meant to be a mystery, though it is
so poorly executed that I thought I was watching an action movie.
The film ends on such a morally confusing note that the viewer is left with nothing but a sense of emptiness. Was the villain right? Were the sisters guilty of a high crime for being alive, thus stealing food from the mouths of others? Is humanity truly doomed by their actions? Is the intended moral that we are too selfish and emotional a species to save ourselves? The most frustrating thing is that the final act raises more questions than the rest of the movie. Raising questions in science fiction cinema is easy, providing philosophically coherent answers is where the craft comes in. When it comes to writing there is little craft here.
1 out of 5 stars