Set in a near future where the world population has reached catastrophic levels, the ‘one child law’ has been introduced. Forbidding more than a child per family, illegal siblings are to be rounded up and put into enforced cryogenic sleep.
Paradoxically, as a result of genetically modified food designed to meet the demands of this overpopulated world, multiple births are common. So when Willem Dafoe’s daughter dies in child birth leaving seven identical twins, they are faced with a grim future.
However, he has a plan. Hiding them away, he names each of them after one day of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday… etc.), whereupon each of them can venture out into the world on their allotted day – provided they share the same single, fictitious identity: Karen Stretten. As Karen, actress Noomi Rapace convinces in multiple roles where she has to quickly distinguish each of the (now grown-up) children with their own unique personalities. Opposite her, Glenn Close uses her polished English accent to great effect as the dangerous matriarch / politician Nicolette Cayman. That said, in exploring a common sci-fi theme of ‘people-rising-up-against-a-repressive-regime’, ‘What Happened To Monday’ sadly falls short of its initial, intriguing premise.
The reason for this is that the near future can be a difficult place to depict. Whilst ‘What Happened To Monday’ clearly has an adequate budget for creating a convincing level of detail, it’s clear that its concept leans too heavily on the dialogue and this cramps Karen’s various personalities. None more so is obvious than when comparing this movie with the sci-fi / fertility classic ‘Children of Men’. Where the petty animosities and selfless traits of those characters gave that movie a believability beyond its production design, the same can not be said here. As previously mentioned, the near-future can be difficult place to depict because once it’s established, it can all too easy to fall into the trap of repeating previous sci-fi tropes. As ‘What Happened To Monday’ draws closer to its end, it skirts dangerously close to this, with its budget rent-a-baddies-in-a-suit and other sci-fi staples.
If you’re a fan of Noomi Rapace you will enjoy ‘What happened to Monday?’ as it makes for solid viewing as she flexes her considerable acting range through the multiple roles. However for those hungering for a more substantial multi-character’d depiction Tatiana Maslany in ‘Orphan Black’ offers an equally good performance in a sci-fi tale that is prepared to take risks and has the running time to do it. See them both. There will be enough days in the week when this arrives to Netflix and Amazon. Mark Esper