Movie Review: What Happened to Monday
What Happened to Monday, known as Seven Sisters in Europe, is one of the newest films Netflix has added to their lineup. It falls into the genre of dystopian science fiction thrillers made popular by series as The Hunger Games. This particular story is set in 2073 and follows seven sisters, who are all portrayed by Noomi Rapace (Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows). It was directed by Tommy Wirkola (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) and features a supporting cast comprised of Willem Dafoe (The English Patient, Spider-Man), Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy), and Marwan Kenzari (Ben-Hur, The Promise).
The story begins with the world in crisis as overpopulation causes an array of problems. These complications lead to the establishment of a one-child policy enforced by the Child Allocation Bureau. This initiative is led by Nicolette Cayman (Close) and ensures that all but the oldest child are put into cryosleep until population concerns are under control. Meanwhile, Karen Settman dies giving birth to her seven daughters, who fall into the care of their grandfather, Terrence (Dafoe). Refusing to turn in any of the children, he raises them to take on one identity, named after their mother. He calls each of them a day of the week, which is the day they are allowed to go out in public, and they all share the same life to the smallest detail. As adults, they share a career at a bank and have an opportunity to secure a promotion. Whenever Monday goes missing, though, they must figure out what happened while trying to hide the truth about their siblings.
I feel like the best place to begin is by saying I was intrigued with the concept of this story from the first trailer. I’m a bit of a sucker for stories set in a dystopian society, and practically, I wondered how you would conceal six additional children from the world. While it’s not delved into with great detail, the story gives you enough footage from their childhood to understand how they were trained from a young age. It gives enough of a taste to understand the struggle of having seven children with individual personalities that must put that aside to take on one persona. That struggle continues into adulthood, and while there’s not a lot of time to clearly characterize each sister, there are enough hairstyles, hair colors, and clothing choices to distinguish one from the other.
The performances throughout the film are to be commended. Noomi Rapace did a fabulous job playing each of the seven sisters. Glenn Close is a convincing politician in her role, and while her policy is questionable, her mindset is clearly presented and understandable throughout the film. Marwan Kenzari is an excellent accomplice to Rapace’s many iterations, and I look forward to his upcoming roles in Murder on the Orient Express and Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin. Willem Dafoe’s role is short since he is only present in the girls’ childhood, but his character is fascinating. He plays a brilliant and loving man who can consistently see the bigger picture, and perhaps my greatest complaint is that we never fully find out what happened to him.
However good the performances were, though, the unsettling notions of a worldwide implemented one-child policy and the idea of putting siblings into cryosleep until a later date are the focus of the film. One of the first things that the sisters witness as adults is a young girl being apprehended rather militantly by the Child Allocation Bureau, and it is heartbreaking. Throughout the film, posters and places promoting sterilization also fill the screen. Everything about this world is defined by the problem of overpopulation. It definitely leads the audience to consider the value we put on individual lives and positions the audience to consider how we would handle such serious hurdles in our own world.
Also, to its credit, there are several twists and turns throughout the story. Some of them I was able to predict, but other twists were surprising. I also have to commend the storytellers for not being afraid to make the costs high and to lose some of our characters along the way. All of this leaves a moving narrative on the value of a life and quite the intense, and at times unsettling, adventure. It’s definitely not a film appropriate for the whole family with its language and nudity, but it’s a thrilling story that will hold your attention until the very end.