A whirlwind romance becomes something more complicated in Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ new film Monday. When two Americans, Mickey (Sebastian Stan) and Chloe (Denise Gough), meet in Athens during a night out at a club, they hit it off so well that they wake up the next morning spooning naked on a beach. The two are young and in love, and when Mickey asks Chloe to stay in Athens, she can’t deny the allure of more time with this seemingly carefree charmer. They’ll both eventually find out that trying to forge a lasting relationship might take more than just one wild night where you wake up naked on a beach.
Shot in Athens, Monday is a gorgeous romantic drama that calls to mind European films of the ‘60s and ‘70s like Last Tango in Paris and The Passenger, particularly the many titles that deal with Americans living abroad. Papadimitropoulos modernizes this archetype, with many scenes of absolutely wild parties, actually shot with real Athens citizens who just showed up to party when the filmmakers advertised the opportunity to come and get rowdy with Sebastian Stan. This certainly helps lend the movie an authentic, fly on the wall atmosphere where we feel as though we are seeing these scenes play out in reality before our eyes.
While the texture of the movie can often feel quite real, the character work by comparison is a bit lacking. The script by Papadimitropoulos and Rob Hayes uses a time-jumping structure that’s difficult to latch onto, jumping undetermined periods of time to center each section of the movie around specific, significant weekends. Stan and Gough give it their all to maintain the characters throughout this, but it’s hard to deny that you lose something in not being able to stick with the characters consistently for longer periods of time.
Veterans of the stage, you can feel that the two leads spent plenty of time together working through their parts and their dynamic together, and it pays off. The two have an unmistakable chemistry at first that allows you to buy the fact that they stick together, even as Chloe is far more mature and put-together in her life than Mickey is. The longer the film goes on, though, the more difficult it is to rationalize them staying together. We don’t get enough of the quiet moments in between the major events in order to invest in their relationship and buy them as a couple after too long.
Nevertheless, there’s something inherently compelling about seeing these two actors working together, as evidenced by improvised scenes of them sharing a living space that feel much more real than the scripted moments where we see strife in their relationship. Papadimitropoulos clearly has an eye for place, and makes interesting stabs at tackling this relationship dynamic. The question does remain, however, as to how much desire there is right now for a romantic drama about two Americans having a difficult relationship in Europe. Monday works more than it doesn’t, yet it doesn’t seem to have the right ingredients to land much resonance.
Monday opens in select theaters, digital platforms, and VOD on April 16th