Review Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Spoilers for every day of the week!
So in the future that bad ol’ genetic monkeying with things has caused the worlds crops to flourish, true, but it also apparently caused a population boom once those enhanced crops were consumed. Next thing we know, people are having litters of babies, where the standard pregnancy apparently ends with usually seven screaming infants. The world response to this, rather than going back to the jerry-rigging of crops to try and fix what originally went wrong, was to form the Child Allocation Act and the Child Allocation Bureau to support it. What is the C.A. Act, you ask? When a woman has a multiple birth, all but the eldest child is taken to the Agency and put into cryo-sleep; effectively one child per family is now the law.
Not only did Karen Settman die after giving birth to septuplets, she and her dad Terrence had a falling-out some years ago so he was unprepared to deal with the fallout. But roll up his sleeves and deal with it he did, as best he could, by unimaginatively naming the girls after the days of the week and training them all to act as one person, Karen Settman’s only daughter. Grandpa sequesters all the girls in one large loft, where he trains them to be as individual as they want inside, but once they begin going outside, to be only Karen Settman. Each girl has a rigorous aesthetic regimen to adhere to for being Karen, Grandpa trains them in C.A.B. raid drills, and insists each girl who goes out on her day of the week share all her daily experiences with the other siblings at the end-of-day meeting. Such sharings are essential to their continued collective survival, and secrets or acting out of the ordinary will get them noticed and all but one shipped off to the cryo-chambers faster than you can blink.
Much to-do is made about the idea that each sister has to be as close to the single idea of a Karen Settman as possible in the outside world, and the rule that whatever happens to one happens to all of them is brought across in the clearest most painful way possible when one of the adolescent girls sneaks out to go skateboarding. She comes back with a finger literally dangling from a thread, and well, Grandpa has to reinforce the all-for-one rule with a meat cleaver after that. We can clearly see he regrets needing to do such a thing, but for the sake of all of their continued survival, Grandpa takes a blade to every single last one of his multiple granddaughter’s fingers. Because he loves them. Just think about that for a second. What wouldn’t a person do, for their children, or grandchildren?
Much as I like the idea of these septuplets being raised in seclusion and taking turns being one person, it is highly unlikely. Even “regular” septuplets don’t share every last physical detail with each-other, like fingerprints and teeth and such. (The movie gets around this fairly neatly by employing the government bracelet tracker trick, but still.) We Sci-Fi movie fans are sure a hard lot to please, simply because there are a ton of futuristic dystopian movies out there now, and a great many of them are Young Adult, so we expect and deserve minute attention to detail in the stories we’re presented – you can bet we scrutinize them minutely ourselves.
We’re not treated to much in the way of outside-world scenery, but what we do see is rather reminiscent of Bladerunner or Equilibrium in the bleak conformity of society, especially in the face of totalitarian rule. We do see instances where siblings are carted off by the C.A.B., to the absolute horror of their screaming parents, matter of fact that’s where our story officially begins, with she whom I assume is Monday watching a C.A.B. smash n’ grab, and reporting it to her sisters that night.
The founder of this horrid idea of one child per family and the Bureau itself some thirty years ago, Nicolette Cayman (Glenn Close), comes out today and still makes grand speeches on occasion, to remind people of their humanitarian decision to glean to one child only for the sake of the rest of the planet, etc. etc., ad nauseum. But like any dystopian governmental rule, Cayman is hiding a gigantic secret, and since sadly the “you’ve seen one futuristic dystopian society movie, you’ve seen ‘em all” adage does apply here, it’s not hard to guess what her secret is. I won’t completely spoil it, but simply ask, where are the 100+acres-large cryo-sleep facilities the Bureau would need to do as they swore?
As much as I like the rather original premise of the movie, there is this great setup and then the film dives headlong into what Monday did and the rest of the sisters being laser-focused on taking down Cayman and the Bureau, nothing else. It’s a shame and I think the Settman siblings deserved better. I find it hard to believe that no-one else in 30-odd years of the Child Allocation Bureau running things figured out what Cayman was up to and exposed her. Then again, perhaps only Monday ever got close enough, determined enough, frightened and enraged enough to finally, finally, put an end to everything.
Noomi Rapace really runs the gauntlet as every single last day of the week sister in this movie, and I thought did a fair job of it too. The film does have each girl have at least some aspect of separate personality and Rapace gamely shoves that aspect forward each time she’s a different day, we can tell she’s really trying hard. Willem Dafoe as Grandfather Terrence is one of the high spots of the film of course, as is Marwan Kenzari as the pivotal love interest character Adrian Knowles. And Clara Read as the younger Settman girl/s delivers a highly believable and enjoyable performance.
Find out what Monday did in What Happened to Monday? on Netflix now!