Having sex on public beaches, snorting coke in dark club bathrooms, lavishly running around Greece… Monday puts these dreams, desires, nightmares, what be it, at the center of the movie’s focus and couples them with an enticing love story; one that’s so addictive, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where it went wrong. When perhaps, it was all wrong from the very start.
This new indie movie comes from director Argyris Papadimitropoulos and stars Sebastian Stan and Denise Gough as its leads, Mickey and Chloe. The two are both American expatriates living in Greece. When the audience first meets Chloe, she is an unhinged mess on a club dance floor, leaving a voicemail for her ex-boyfriend Christos (Andreas Konstantinou).
Mickey, on the other hand, is the club DJ who, according to his friend Argyris (Yorgos Pirpassopoulos), “has a nose for American chicks” — to which Mickey replies, “No, that girl looks insane.” But, his friend brings him to her anyways and literally shoves their faces together until they’re kissing.
The next time we see the duo, they’re being woken up by local cops after falling asleep naked on the beach, post-coitus. Surrounding them, the beach residents are yelling, “There are children here.” It’s a rocky start, one that’s saved instantly by Mickey’s boyish charm. With handcuffs on, he awkwardly positions his hands towards Chloe at a weird angle, introducing himself and saying “nice to meet you.”
Their relationship is compelling
At the heart of the movie is the relationship between Mickey and Chloe. Mickey is the resident partier and Chloe seems to be up for the adventure for her remaining two days in the country before returning to the United States. But, after being pulled into the fun life of Mickey, she decides to stay — not without a romantic, picturesque chase-down at the airport, of course.
At this point in the movie, any red flags or warning signs about Mickey’s inability to behave as a mature adult are masked under his persona of “I’m a fun guy.” For example, he helps Chloe move her belongings into his place, he sweet-talks his way into renting the moving van last-minute (when he was supposed to do it in advance), he cries while chopping onions and decides to finish cooking dinner in a scuba mask… he’s just fun. Right?
However, the big moving scene, although early on in the movie, was the clearest indicator of everything that was about to go wrong. When Chloe’s favorite couch, which she waxed poetically about, couldn’t fit up the stairs to Mickey’s apartment, Mickey’s suggestion was that they throw a giant street party — inviting one of his past bandmates — and set the couch on fire in the middle of the street.
Immediately after, the two and his bandmate, Bastian (Dominique Tipper), dodge the police by running back to the apartment and continuing their drinking and conversation there. Bastian is just as foul-mouth and loud as Mickey’s other friends, throwing shady remarks towards Chloe. During an intense conversation about Mickey’s time in their band, Chloe harshly explained to the room that Mickey’s “only happy when he’s failing.” Red flag #2 in just a few minutes of time.
Of course, to finish it off, Chloe drunkenly falls asleep on the couch and Bastian and Mickey do coke in the bathroom.
With all of the couple’s “bad” following this same pattern, the good is really good, until it isn’t. Chloe and Mickey have unmatchable chemistry — they feel the urge to rip off each other’s clothes at every turn. They easily banter and relish in each other’s company; it is clear that they are comfortable and they bring out the best in each other.
Mickey tones down his frat boy energy and Chloe learns to let loose. The biggest problem with this is that the audience is given more insight into Mickey’s flaws, than Chloe’s. It is unclear if she even needed to “let loose” in the first place, as she seems pretty well-adjusted to all of the trouble she’s been thrown in her life.
It is shown that she escaped a very toxic relationship, one that seemed very abusive from the slight glimmers of it portrayed to the audience. Her ex, Christo, has always been fast to gaslight her, demean her, and put his hands on her — at one moment, gripping her wrist when she tries to exit a conversation with him.
Chloe is a respected immigration lawyer and when we meet her friends, they all seem like stuffy, rich gentrifiers — giving the assumption that she probably needed to break out of her circle a bit, but not the extreme of Mickey.
The beauty of Monday is that none of this matters
But in the grand scheme of things, the way this movie functions is that none of this matters. Monday packs in the emotional turmoil of Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story without the exaggerated, dramatic acting. It has the epic hotness of Sebastian Stan’s previous indie movie Endings, Beginnings by Drake Doremus, without the forced “I’m not like other girls” cliche.
Monday is simple and glides seamlessly through all of this nonsense. In one scene, Director Papadimitropoulos effortlessly makes Mickey seem like a complete jerk, but in the next, he’s a class-act guy to his friends, girlfriend, and possibly-estranged child.
The same goes for Chloe; one minute she’s expertly advising someone on their immigration snafu, and the next, she’s getting blackout drunk at a party and dangerously following down Mickey’s well-worn path to self-destruction.
Towards the end of the movie, she frustratingly yells, “What am I f*****g doing?” evoking the impact of a giant tub of cold water being poured over one’s head as they ponder the same question.
With standout, genuine performances by Stan and Gough and authentic writing by Papadimitropoulos and Rob Haye, Monday makes for an excellent and undemanding viewing. One that will subtly stir one’s emotions and leave them wanting more until they suddenly realize they probably didn’t need any of this at all — much like Chloe.
But the ride of Monday is fun while it lasts, and certainly shouldn’t be missed.
Monday is available in select theaters and digital platforms.