In 2016, filmmaker Argyris Papadimitropoulos gave us “Suntan,” a film about erotic obsession that was also one of the country’s best recent offerings. In his latest effort, love is back at the fore, albeit in a very different way, a whirlwind weekend romance that is followed by the inevitable downer, “Monday.”
Thrown together at a wild party in Athens, lawyer Chloe and carefree DJ Mickey – both Americans – feel an instant spark. The morning finds them asleep and naked on a beach, being prodded by police, and later heading off for a gig at an island party. As their relationship deepens, she puts off going back home and moves into his downtown Athens apartment.
Working in reverse from “Suntan,” Papadimitropoulos starts “Monday” in the middle of the Greek summer – full of sweet delights, dancing, sex and pre-pandemic spontaneity, a heady mix that infects the audience as much as the protagonists. Here, however, the island serves only as a brief backdrop, with the action being centered on Athens. The beleaguered Greek capital, which nevertheless retains its own irresistible charm, is basically the third main character, with Papadimitropoulos acting as our guide to a city he is intimately familiar with.
From an impromptu party in a square in the neighborhood of Kypseli to an insane naked motorbike ride in the middle of winter – by far the film’s most compelling scene – Athens serves as the host of this romance, which of course becomes less and less carefree as the months – the Saturdays and the Sundays – go by. The buildup to the inevitable – dreaded or anticipated? – Monday is also the key theme of the film, which relies heavily on the chemistry between its two protagonists.
Sebastian Stan from “Avengers: Endgame” and award-winning stage actress Denise Gough make for an electric pair. They are flanked by many well-known figures of the Greek cinema scene – both actors and non-actors – in a somewhat loose and light ensemble cast that remains such even in the film’s darkest moments, giving it a flatness that is, perhaps, one of the flaws of “Monday,” which is, in other respects, filled with wonderful moments, like the tender and awkward execution of Dionysis Savvopoulos’ popular children’s song “Synnefoula,” by the non-Greek-speaking protagonists.
“Monday” is in English with Greek subtitles and is being screened at movie theaters now. Apart from Stan and Gough, it also stars Giorgos Pyrpassopoulos as Mickey’s best friend in Athens.