One of the more mainstream titles TIFF20 has to offer, is Argyris Papadimitropoulos‘ Monday, in which Marvel Studios’ very own Winter Soldier, Sebastian Stan, and Denise Gough play two thirtysomething Americans living their best life in Athens. As soon as they meet on a wild party weekend, sparks go flying. All good things come to an end, and just when Chloe (Gough) has to leave Greece, she decides to give up her job as a freelance immigration lawyer and instead takes a chance on the spark she shares with Mickey (Stan). A fun, honest, emotional and audaciously beautiful journey ensues.
Papadimitropoulos’ story is as hot and horny as it is funny, until things get seriously deep. Monday doesn’t exactly break any new ground when it comes to romantic dramas, but does it in his own way, by letting these two talented actors do their own thing, almost as if certain scenes were completely improvised. Stan and especially Gough give career best performances that in a final quarrel almost seems inspired by that one particular scene in ‘Marriage Story‘. With opposite views on life, and how their respective views are tested over the course of a couple of months in Greece, by life getting in the way of love and love getting in the way of life, they discover the best and worst sides of each other. Papadimitropoulos (‘Suntan‘) doesn’t exaggerate and actually shows a quite realistic view of a serious relationship that’s still growing with every passing day.
The somewhat predictable dramatic arc and cliché romantic scenes – running into an airport to confess your love – gets elevated by the strong and often hilarious dialogue, where Giorgos Pyrpasopoulos (‘Logo Timis: 20 hronia meta‘) as Mickey’s best friend Argyris is the film’s genius comedic relief. Sebastian Stan fans get a lot more than they wish for, with lots of tasteful intimate sex scenes that feel just as spontaneous and vulnerable as they are steamy. Gough (‘The Kid Who Would Be King‘), seriously channeling Meg Ryan, is absolutely phenomenal. She is what you can call a revelation. The electric chemistry this onscreen couple shares is so seductive and sweet, you’d almost believe they really had a summer fling. What works surprisingly well, is how different Mickey and Chloe are, in handling tough situations, desiring one another and how they laugh at how their friends not getting along – and yet, I believe such opposites could really get attracted to each other in real life.
Monday is entertaining, while exploring the trials and tribulations of two ex-pats falling in love in a foreign country, without actually knowing what the future might bring. The film itself is just as good-looking as its two desirable leads, while the editing seamlessly stitches everything together diving deeper into new undiscovered facets of Mickey and Chloe’s relationship. Somehow a love story about Americans in Greece doesn’t involve a single ABBA-song, but instead makes sure you don’t forget about Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”.
A love story so sincere and vulnerable, Monday is unreserved in its portrayal of relationships, celebrating the struggles, triumphs and all that’s in between.
TIFF20 Review – ‘Monday’
Reviewed online (as part of Toronto International Film Festival), September 12, 2020. Rating: TBC. Running time: 116 min.
PRODUCTION: A Faliro House Productions, Automatik Entertainment, Protagonist Pictures, Blonde production. Producers: Deanna Barillari, Damian Jones, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos (p.g.a.), Argyris Papadimitropoulos (p.g.a.). Executive producers: Fred Berger, Fenia Cossovitsa.
CREW: Director: Argyris Papadimitropoulos. Screenplay: Rob Hayes, Argyris Papadimitropoulos. Editor: Napoleon Stratogiannakis. Cinematography: Hristos Karamanis. Music: Alexis Grapsas.
WITH: Denise Gough, Sebastian Stan, Giorgos Pyrpasopoulos, Prometheus Aleifer, Orfeas Avgoustidis, Michalis Ikonomou, Panagos Ioakeim, Andreas Konstantinou, Sofia Kokkali, Alexandros Logothetis.