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‘Monday’ Portrays Romance Outside of the Rom-Com

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Moviegoers around the world were graced with yet another performance by heartthrob Sebastian Stan in his new film “Monday,” released on April 16 in select theaters and streaming services. Stan’s portrayal of modern romance is so authentic and realistic that it leaves viewers feeling particularly hungry for more. 

Mickey (Stan) is an avid drinker and party-goer who has spent the last seven years in Greece DJing and avoiding any and all responsibilities. Chloe (Denise Gough) is an American immigration lawyer who has recently broken up with her boyfriend. When Chloe and Mickey meet at a house party one summer night in Athens, their sexual tension is readily clear. In fact, the heat is so perceivable that the pair bypasses introductions entirely and go straight to making out. The following morning, the two wake up on the beach completely naked, surrounded by angry beach-goers and the police. It seems as though this is just another forgettable night for the two strangers — as both participants were extremely drunk and horny — yet as time progresses, the sexual desire they share for each other only intensifies. Drink by drink, these two alluring individuals capture the inebriation of newfound love based solely on sexual attraction.  

Directed by Argyris Papadimitropoulos, “Monday” delivers an enthralling emotional rollercoaster of love, lust and impulsivity. An anti-romantic comedy, this drama-filled film illustrates romance at the point when the honeymoon phase peters out and real-world problems begin to seep through. The relationship problems portrayed are both cynical and, one might say, all-too-realistic; like many jaded partners, Chloe drowns out Mickey’s increasingly selfish behavior with the expectation that he will miraculously change. It is not long before she finds herself tangled in his web of inconsistencies. 

“Do you ever think, ‘What the f*** am I doin’?’” Chloe asks Mickey. “Not really,” he replies, “I mean sure, but it’s more like, ‘Why did I just open the fridge?’” 

It is evident from the get-go that the pair’s relationship is built solely on desire and passion. As the film progresses, viewers are presented with the instability that ensues when the two find themselves completely sober. The first of these scenes illustrate that the two share only one thing in common: their love of sex. A love that arises from merely desire and excitement is bound to blow up. This volatile progression, which is shown over a series of Fridays, is predicated with periods of both sober disagreements and arguments avoided via partying and sex. This pattern continues on until one Monday, when Chloe is left to make one life-changing decision: should she leave Mickey and return to her stable life back in Chicago, or invest more of her time in a pleasurable, yet toxic relationship? She decides the former until, of course, Mickey stops her in her tracks.

During a run-of-the-mill airport scene, Mickey convinces Chloe to ditch her responsibilities and move into his two-bedroom apartment in Athens. Choosing to ignore his major red flags — that Mickey lives rent-free and holds absolutely no custody rights over his son — Chloe allows herself to be sucked into his unstable life of nonstop sex, drugs and alcohol. At Chloe’s moving-in party, Mickey’s previous bandmate Bastian (Dominique Tipper) reveals Mickey had quit the band, despite Mickey claiming the band broke up because Bastian received all the spotlight. But why would he change up the story? “You f***in’ hate yourself,” Bastian tells Mickey. “You are not happy unless you’re failing, and that’s why you left the band.” Mickey brushes this off, saying, “I guess I’ll get happy with another drink.” Throughout the film, but especially in this scene, Gough goes above and beyond to portray Chloe’s fright and vulnerability with her wide, expressive eyes.

Despite the high, ever-growing sexual satisfaction, Chloe and Mickey’s relationship persistently progresses towards its “Monday,” which serves as a direct metaphor of their disillusionment. The film’s final Friday depicts possibly the most self-explosive behavior we’ve seen from either character throughout the film’s hour and 56 minute-run. As Mickey finally gains visitation rights to his son — thanks to Chloe’s expertise in law — and awaits his Monday arrival, the kitchen sink begins to overflow and leak. Mickey brushes the leak aside, while Chloe is clearly fed-up with his immature and dismissive behavior. What is fascinating about this scene is the way in which it convinces the viewer that Chloe has finally had enough of Mickey’s toxic and irresponsible habits. That very night, however, the couple goes out clubbing, with Chloe trying cocaine for the first time. 

Shortly after, the couple, now nude, speeds away on Mickey’s moped to have sex on the beach.  The two are then chased by police, arrested and must spend the entire weekend in jail — or so Chloe believes. Mickey posts bail and leaves Chloe to rot in a jail cell until Monday. As Monday finally rolls around, Chloe returns to the apartment and finds Mickey happily in the comfort of his home. It is in this scene that the couple get in their biggest argument yet. The film ends with the two of them picking Mickey’s son up from school, implying that Chloe ultimately decides to stay with him. 

With characters such as these, it’s hard to ignore the similarities we face in our own personal lives — whether in our platonic or romantic relationships. Not all relationships are filled with rainbows and sunshine. In fact, most are about sacrifice, compromise and trust. Stan and Gough equally bring forth a romance that, like so many, includes its ups and downs. While the misbehavior portrayed in the film may be considered by most as hyperbolic, the romance portrayed is shockingly real. Viewers are readily invited to relate to, understand and respect the scenes presented. With a direct nod towards films where the guy gets the girl and they live happily ever after (think Shrek and Fiona), Papadimitropoulos attempts to try something different and succeeds. “Monday” serves as a unique approach at delivering a movie in the romance genre that flaunts what happens to the relationship once the rom-com ends. 

McKenzie Boney is an Entertainment Intern for the spring 2021 quarter. She can be reached at mboney@uci.edu