Most people would not put much credence on a relationship that begins in a club, even worse when one or both parties are drunk. Depending on your perspective at the end of “Monday,” a romantic drama by Argyris Papadimitropoulos (“Suntan,” “Wasted Youth”) that advice to avoid bar hook-ups will either be confirmed or re-evaluated. The packed party scene in an Athens night club full of a combination of work weary locals and free-spirited tourists is vibrant and sexually charged. Helping to create and perpetuate the atmosphere is American DJ, Mickey, played by Sebastian Stan. As he spins and scratches the tunes, he notices a vivacious and attractive woman dancing with no one in particular. It doesn’t take long for his friend, Argyris, to step in as matchmaker, pulling Mickey off the DJ stand and introducing him to Chloe (Denise Gough), the beguiling American woman that captured Mickey’s attention. Within seconds, a clearly drunk Chloe engulfs Mickey in a passionate embrace and kiss. Setting off sparks, the two instantly ditch the club for a nearby beach. Their naked nighttime romp lands them in a police station the next morning as clothes were not optional.
Although Chloe, who is an immigration attorney, has sobered up and declares that their one-night-stand needs to stay as just that, their are signs of weakness. Mickey is unabashedly smitten and not having it, enticing her away from a pre-scheduled flight back to America and convincing her to let their weekend romance become a relationship. Their Friday night and weekend of fun and frivolity becomes a metaphor for the magic of initial attraction. Likewise, the soberness of Monday mornings becomes its own relationship metaphor. After some time goes by, they move in, meet friends and exes, and experience each other’s flaws and phobias. This is especially true for Chloe who notices Mickey has commitment and maturity issues, in addition to a bit of a self-sabotaging nature when it comes to relationships and happiness. Are these red flags to take heed of and run from, or normal shortcomings to deal with and forge ahead?
While “Monday” is not quite as deep as other films exploring the woes and triumphs of coupledom, like old classics such as “Scenes From a Marriage” or Kramer vs. Kramer, or more recent contenders like, “Marriage Story” or the chatty Richard Linklater trilogy (“Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset,” “Before Midnight”), it is an enjoyable, believable and a somewhat fresh take on the genre. Writer-director Papadimitropoulos maybe doesn’t get all the aspects right of his American characters and he doesn’t flesh out a couple key scenarios, he does successfully capture a mood and mindset common between lovers. He also nails the casting. Gough and Stan have chemistry for days (or many weekends) and the two together or separately are worth the price of admission. Although Stan has a bit more notoriety than his female counterpart, neither is well-known or a celebrity, and that works in the film’s favor, lending to the authentic feel. Both are undeniably captivating in their own way and “Monday” is good enough to make for a sizzling weekend viewing.
MONDAY Opens in Select Theaters, on Digital Platforms and VOD on April 16th
Director: Argyris Papadimitropoulos
Writers: Argyris Papadimitropoulos, Rob Hayes
Stars: Denise Gough, Sebastian Stan
Language: English/ Greek
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 116 min.
Production Page: https://press.amcnetworks.com/ifc-films/shows/monday/
“Together Together” is a respectable attempt at understated comedy (or is it quirky comedy or dramaedy?), but woefully falls short. Instead, it is a film in search of a genre as much as a purpose. Anna (Patti Harrison) is a 20-something gestational surrogate for middle-aged, single Matt, played by Ed Helms ("The Hangover"). While Matt is excited at the prospects for fatherhood, and by nature is a kind and friendly average guy that works in tech, Anna has more of an aloof personality and decidedly unimpressed with the whole surrogacy process. Much of the film is a reflection of these opposite personalities responding, or not, to this major life adjustment. Matt sees the pregnancy as a wonderful opportunity not only to become a father, but also to develop a new friendship with his surrogate. Anna views the whole situation as a job to be completed before she goes to grad school, not an experience, and Matt as a bit of a nuisance.
Over the nine months of their “togetherness,” there is a shift in their relationship and a special connection prevails. The shift is done subtlety and sweetly, with no broad comedy tactics enlisted or multiple major pop music montages. While on one hand it is commendable that writer/director Nicole Beckwith uses restraint, on the other hand, it is almost too subtle. In the end, platonic love and alternative families win, but the journey there is underwhelming. This in large part due to the sweet, yet awkward performances by Helms and Harrison, both working with a lackluster script. Despite that and not surprising, “Together Together” was the indie darling at the Sundance Film Festival (2021), so no doubt it will find its audience beyond film festival “gem stone”- charming some, boring others, but offending no one. Let’s face it, during these pandemic days of dwindling content, we’re all looking and hoping for film connections of any kind.
Writer/Director: Nicole Beckwith
Stars: Ed Helms, Patti Harrison
MPAA Rating: R
Run Time: 90 min
Website:https://bleeckerstreetmedia.com/; Trailer: https://bleeckerstreetmedia.com/together-together/