Film Review: What Happened to Monday (2017)

Netflix Originals:

What Happened to Monday, 2017

Directed by: Tommy Wirkola

Starring: Noomi Rapace, Willem Dafoe, Glenn Close, Marwan Kenzari

What happens when the earth’s population becomes so high that food supplies start to run low? In the future world in What Happened to Monday is a child limit of one. Set in 2073, the earth has had a strict one-child policy for around 30 years, and all second (and beyond) children are taken away to be put into cryosleep, to be awoken in a time when the over-crowdedness was a thing of the past. When Terrence Settman (Willem Dafoe, The English Patient) becomes a father of identical septuplet sisters (the mother dies during giving birth), he conjures up a plan where they can live in secret, and names them after the days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, all played by Clara Read as youngsters and Noomi Repace as adults) and only allows them to leave their home on the day of the week that matches their name. We see flashbacks of their childhood throughout, but the main focus is in 2073 as they’re all adults. After Monday doesn’t return home from work, Tuesday sets out to find out what happened, before chaos ensues.

I have to give credit to Noomi Rapace in this film; playing seven different characters can be difficult, but to successfully manage seven distinct characters is impressive. Each character has their own traits and look (when they’re not being Karen Settman (the alias they use in the outside world) they are allowed to be themselves), and Noomi Rapace does a solid job in making all of these stand out while acting well enough to lead a film.

Another thing which is impressive is the look, feel and premise of the film: the scenes of crowded streets are horrifying; we watch Karen walk through these massive, massive crowds of people and it really hammers home how much of a problem the overcrowding is (I’ve walked through the streets of London and New York City and in this world the population is double that of our world today so it really makes you think how bad the situation is). And they really help you sympathise with the seven by showing flashbacks of their youth where one of the girls got into an accident which left the tip of her forefinger hanging off, and because they have to look the same Terrence is forced to chop the tip of the forefingers off the remaining six girls. This is a brutal moment, and seeing that they are only allowed outside the house one day a week, meaning for six full days they cannot leave their home, and if one gets into an accident they all have to have the repercussions, all of these actions really help you feel sympathy for Karen and hatred at the world’s rule about siblings.

However, it doesn’t build on this emotional impact too much. We see the flashback with the finger incident then Monday goes missing (after a brief discussion between the girls about giving themselves up for the cryosleep programme) so these moments of character building and setting their history is soon forgotten about. The girls are also completely distinct to the point where they all slot into handy stereotypes (the computer geek, the fighter, the ‘mother’ of the group, the troublemaker), and considering the sheltered life they’ve lived it’s difficult to imagine them being this different.

The plot mainly revolves around the government trying to kill all of the siblings (to save face as they’ve fought the system for 30 years), but it could have built to it more, rather than seemingly rushing into the action and remaining there throughout the remainder. There is a nice twist at the end (in terms of how the government found out they were siblings) which was both predictable and surprising, which was nice to see, but because certain parts weren’t fully built early on it didn’t have the same impact by the end as I’d have liked.

A nice action thriller based on a worry that has been echoed around (and using a system China has used in the past) but, unfortunately, the one-child policy only seems to be there to give a reason for the killings, rather than having the story revolve around that; but Noomi Repace plays her role really well and the action is nice (with some gruesome moments) so the film is certainly worth watching.

Plot: * * *

Acting: * * * *

Writing: * * *

Presentation: * * * *

Overall Rating: * * * ½

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