What Happened to Monday? is a Netflix exclusive released on August 30th. The story is set in a dystopian future in which the world suffers overpopulation and limited resources until a strict “one child per family” solution is enforced by the newly erected Child Allocation Bureau.
The story narrows in on a family of septuplets raised by their grandfather in secret. Each child is named after a different day of the week and are only allowed outside on their respective day (i.e. Monday for Monday, etc.). While in the outside world, each publically plays the persona of “Karen Settman”, a businesswoman of seemingly many talents. When Monday disappears, her sisters set out to find her and discover some unsettling information along the way.
The film puts up a rather strong front, a clever disguise of sorts. The central conceit of having seven identical siblings avoid the law by unanimously performing a character comprised of their unique personalities is fun and interesting. They also support that conceit by having actress Noomi Rapace play all seven sisters. The movie creates good color contrast between its flashbacks and present day, and Willem Dafoe puts on a sufficiently adequate performance as the children’s grandfather. Beyond that, the setting provides a classic bleak dystopian feeling, but still remains well lit, creating a fantastic clarity of scenes. All in all, there’s a lot to appreciate within the film while it’s still in that discovery phase.
Unfortunately, that’s all it is: a disguise. For all its initial cleverness, What Happened to Monday? is one of those films that flusters and deflates once you start asking simple questions about its plot. I can’t really bring any of those questions up without spoiling some of the movie, but there are some major faults I can safely point out. The plot is unfortunately pretty weak. The villains of the film don’t have an especially solid motivation. The film is largely lacking in creative set pieces or distinctive visuals of any kind, and while Noomi Rapace does the best she can with the sisters, none of them work as characters beyond a skin depth. In fact, there’s just an overall lack of meaningful performance throughout, and there’s no working chemistry between characters either.
Forget Monday, what happened to the screenplay?
I think in the end, the only really noteworthy offerings are a strong “Act I” and overall impressive scene clarity and staging. Afterwards, all you’re left with is a watered down Minority Report that can’t even offer creative substitutes. If you’re really looking to scratch that bleak dystopian itch, maybe consider 3% (also on Netflix), Ex Machina, or just watch Minority Report. That film came out 15 years ago but still feels fresher than this.