Described in the credits as "science fiction" (a pretty loose use of the term), The Girl From Monday represents another genre leap for Hartley, following his 2001 Beauty and the Beast fantasy, No Such Thing. Well, if you're a typical sci-fi fan, be forewarned: There are no special effects -- minus thugs in funny helmets -- and there's really nothing terribly innovative in the storyline department.
Even Hartley's attempts at biting humor fall short. The concepts are sharp, but they're also so overt and oddly executed that they lose their bite. The government feeds ADD management pills to high school kids with plans on screwing them up for good by combining the meds with highly chemical, highly sellable soft drinks. All of this government-managed, marketing-run madness should be played for vicious fun, but Hartley's cheeky noirish dialogue oversells the joke.
Added into the mix are rumors of an alien or two who've come to Earth, taken human form, and found levels of emotion that prevent them from wanting to go home. They may even have had sex just for fun, a serious no-no. Bill Sage plays Jack, a marketing department drone with an odd relationship with one such "immigrant," a super-hot alien (Tatiana Abracos) who conducts conversations much like Daryl Hannah in Splash. I'm not sure that's done on purpose.
Unfortunately, there's not much more than meets the eye here, and even Hartley's use of black-and-white, color, and assorted digital speeds and resolutions do little to punch up the film's tone. If anything, they even shine a light on how inert The Girl From Monday feels.
Much of the acting comes up equally as sluggish, with Leo Fitzpatrick, playing a brilliant revolutionary student, as a blueprint example. Fitzpatrick, given his start by Larry Clark in the film Kids, has performed admirably in a handful of films, but he's not able to step it up for video, a classically unforgiving medium for mediocre acting.
With its themes of totalitarianism and identity, there are hints of Blade Runner and Brazil, and Hartley could have treated his film as a meaty, scathing low-budget version of those favorites. But any vibrancy feels sapped. Not every shoestring indie needs to be energetic and edgy, but it could've really helped in this case.
Reviewed at the 2005 Independent Film Festival of Boston.
Run time: 84 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 26th January 2005
Distributed by: Possible Films
Production compaines: Possible Films
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 38%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 13
IMDB: 5.3 / 10
Director: Hal Hartley
Screenwriter: Hal Hartley
Starring: Bill Sage as Jack, Sabrina Lloyd as Cecile, Tatiana Abracos as The Girl From Monday, Leo Fitzpatrick as William, D.J. Mendel as Abercrombie, James Urbaniak as Funk, Juliana Francis as Rita, Gary Wilmes as Adjuster
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