Review: Sexy Rom-com Loses Steam Between Friday And 'Monday'

News18
·4-min read

Monday. Ugh. The very word emits a chill. Monday means back to school, or work. Nose to the grindstone. Partys over.

Friday, meanwhile, is the opposite vibe. Whats great about Friday is that, unlike Saturday and certainly Sunday, it signals the beginning of fun. Friday means you have lots of time Mondays a mere twinkle in the distance.

Now theres an entire movie, Monday, by writer-director Argyris Papadimitropoulos, based on this concept. The story of an intoxicating love affair slowly inching toward some sort of reckoning with reality, Monday should really be called Mostly Friday, because most of what we see transpires in that phase: the beginning of a relationship, when we willfully ignore any warning signals.

Monday takes some patience. Its arresting at times, and beautiful, even seductive, mainly due to the chemistry between its leads, Sebastian Stan and Denise Gough, who spend a lot of time, well, having sex. (Stan recently promoted the movie by teasing a shot of his nude backside on Instagram. This will not hurt the films chances.)

But Papadimitropoulos doesnt say a whole lot here or offer much of a lesson. This may not be a fatal problem, but it can feel trying; better to watch this film on a Friday, when you have no reason to rush through life.

Speaking of intoxicating, our setting is Greece. In the summer. This is where we meet thirtysomething American immigration lawyer Chloe (Gough, an Irish actress better known for her accomplished stage work), whos spending one last night on the Athens club scene before returning stateside. Chloe is nursing a bad breakup; its time to go home and start a new job.

But then she meets Mickey, also American, a DJ and jingle writer whos been living in Athens for years. Mickey is charismatic and charming a man-boy whos clearly gotten by on these assets for a long time. They meet on the dance floor and are kissing within seconds.

The next morning, they wake up stark naked on the beach. The cops take them down to the station. In handcuffs, they introduce themselves to each other by name for the first time. Ah, young(ish) love.

The cops let them go, and Mickey gives Chloe a lift home. It would all end here, except she lost her bag, with her keys. She ends up traveling to a dreamy island with him for a party. And soon, theyre hooked. Chloe gets as far as the security line at the airport, but he races there and pulls her back at the last moment.

If its a bit hard to believe a woman like Chloe smart, with a meaningful career would drop everything (and halfway through security!), well, were willing to suspend disbelief. After all, it IS Friday. In fact that first chapter is called Friday, as is the next, and the next, and the next.

And these two cant keep their hands off each other. They have sex everywhere, including in a flatbed truck on a side street in daylight. But fissures slowly appear. An old friend of Mickeys comes to visit and tells him, Youre only happy when youre failing. Mickeys ex, meeting Chloe, calls him a baby. This concerns her, but the magnetic field of their attraction is apparently too intense to escape.

At the same time, theres a worrying undercurrent that maybe its not all about chemistry maybe these two are using each other for reasons they’d prefer not to acknowledge. One of them actually verbalizes this, but its pretty far into the game,

Monday has an artsy, improvised feel, but also falls prey to some pretty standard rom-com tropes. Running to the airport to catch someone just before they board a plane, for example, seems right out of a Richard Curtis film. The same goes for someone grabbing the mic at a random wedding to make a clumsy, drunken pronouncement of love.

What saves scenes like this is the fact that Gough is so genuine a performer, you really want to see how her Chloe will handle things. As for Stan, he has enough raw appeal to make you empathize, if not totally buy, Chloes willingness to hang around.

As the relationship goes, so goes the film. The beginning is fun for the characters, and for us. By the time we see the word Monday appear onscreen, weve already felt the oncoming chill. As Dorothy might say: Toto, Ive a feeling its not Friday anymore.

Monday, an IFC Films release, has been rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for sexual content, nudity/graphic nudity, drug use, and pervasive language. Running time: 116 minutes. Two stars out of four.

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MPAA definition of R: Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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Follow Jocelyn Noveck on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/JocelynNoveckAP

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