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4 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Girl From Monday, The
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by Jay Seaver

"Even near-future science fiction isn't as easy as it looks."
1 stars

Being a fan of both science fiction and serious film is incredibly frustrating experience. The Venn diagram has a teeny-tiny sliver of an intersection, and if you're passionate enough to want to see them really done well, you can come off like you don't like anything but "Gattaca". But you keep trying, because when the two click, it's fantastic. Unfortunately, you often wind up seeing crud like "The Girl From Monday", which is sheer pretentious torture.

It starts with the opening credits, which describe it as "A Science Fiction By Hal Hartley". Which is, I suppose, technically accurate, but a weird thing to speak or write. It's followed with a great big slab of expository narration from main character Jack (Bill Sage), which describes the film's future world. There's a lot of exposition, because Hartley doesn't have the budget to make New York and Jersey City actually look like the future, although the people involved will probably say that that's deliberate, because it's a satire.

Which is the other problem - Hartley apparently belongs to that class of writer that sees science fiction as a potent tool for social commentary, but doesn't recognize or believe that the genre has rules and expectations, such as a believably extrapolated, consistent world. An America that looks pretty much like ours (except that the police carry black-painted water guns) probably wouldn't have amusement parks on the moon. The way people interact indicates that radical changes have occurred in society, but we're told that it's only a generation or so into the future, not far enough for this cultural shift of "buying power increased by casual sex" to have believably evolved. It makes the whole setting completely arbitrary, undercutting any sort of message Hartley is trying to communicate because the audience doesn't believe in his world, or the characters within it.

The main character and narrator is Jack (Bill Sage), an executive in the company that apparently runs America who also is a member of the rather well-behaved resistance movement. He uses co-worker Cecile (Sabrina Lloyd) to establish an alibi during a planned disruption of television service, which goes awry because someone else chose that night to set off a bomb when the resistance just planned to do a little hacking. He breaks the date with Cecile, she sues him, hooks up with one of the young resistance guys on the rebound, and winds up under arrest. Meanwhile, Jack encounters a woman emerging from the ocean naked. This girl (Tatiana Abracos), an alien given human form from a star called "Monday" in Earth's astronomical catalog, is looking to bring back a previous visitor who has apparently gone native.

There's potential in this story, if a filmmaker understands science fiction, and can build a believable world out of the individual ideas he has. Hartley gives no indication that he's able to do this; he just sticks things together and hopes that the individual bit is solid enough to carry the audience through to the next one. That might work if he had created characters worthy of the audience's interest, but that's not the case; everyone is a humorless cipher motivated by whatever is most useful to Hartley at a given moment. Good luck figuring out why Cecile or Jack support the system or counter-movement at any given time, and don't expect the title character to be anything more than someone who needs hiding. We're told that she's just a fragment of a single consciousness on Monday, but not shown what that means for her as an individual.

It's tough to judge the actors' performances, as they're not given much to do. They're also hampered by Hartley's poor world-building; if you're not given an internally-consistent world to inhabit, how do you know how a character is supposed to act? Ms. Lloyd does a nice job of softening her character as the movie goes on, and Ms. Abracos does a decent fish out of water bit, but that's about as noteworthy as it gets.

The really painful thing is that Hartley allows some potentially clever ideas to be smothered. A guy who can stick the line "sentenced to six years hard labor teaching high school" has some unique and funny twists to add to the standard corporatized-America scenario. He just doesn't seem to know HOW to play with them and make a good bit of science fiction out of it.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11254&reviewer=371
originally posted: 06/28/05 13:04:23
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Independent Film Festival of Boston. For more in the 2005 Independent Film Festival of Boston series, click here.

User Comments

10/02/09 rafalg see this movie if you want to punish yourself for something really bad 1 stars
2/20/06 Todahe Really very bad 1 stars
6/28/05 Naka Fuck! 1 stars
4/16/05 craig varney this film is alien to me it's out there 2 stars
1/25/05 PolkaBoy Diabolically bad. Interminable mess. 2 stars
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Directed by
  Hal Hartley

Written by
  Hal Hartley

  Leo Fitzpatrick
  Juliana Francis
  Sabrina Lloyd
  Bill Sage
  D.J. Mendel
  Tanya Perez

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