Mondays in the Sun (Los Lunes al sol) Reviews
I don't remember who it was that told me, or where I read, nine or ten years ago, that Los Lunes al Sol (in English, Mondays in the Sun) is a comedy. I want to find that person and hit him in the teeth. Not only is this movie not a comedy, it is one of the most relentlessly depressing movies I have ever had the displeasure of sitting through. Which is not to say it is not a good film; it is quite a good film indeed. I believe, however, the depression factor is ultimately to the film's detriment; it struck me while watching that this is a film that requires multiple viewings to truly appreciate, and I cannot for the life of me imagine a time where I would have a strong desire to watch it again, despite its merits.
Plot: There isn't one, really, to this slice-of-life drama: six friends, longtime stevedores, lost their jobs at the dockyard three years ago. Of them, only Rico (Balade Triste de Trompeta's Joaqu√≠n Climent) has managed to make something of himself‚"he took his savings and opened a bar across from the now-shuttered dockyeard, where the other five members of the group drink for free. There's Santa (Before Night Falls' Javier Bardem), a foulmouthed cynic and the unofficial leader of the group, always looking for under-the-table cash that doesn't require him to do any real work, while trying to keep out of the way of his old employer, who are suing him for breaking a light. Lino (Abre los Ojos' Jos√ (C) √?ngel Egido), the eternal optimist, is always on his way to an interview or a rumored opening to fill out an application. Jos√ (C) (Tambien la Lluvia's Luis Tosar) is currently being supported by his wife, Ana (El Bola's Nieve de Medina), who's been working in a tuna canning factory, but the longer she supports him, the angrier he gets at himself and his situation. Reina (El Crimen Perfecto's Enrique Vill√ (C)n) has picked up a temp job as a security guard, but he's stifled by the unfulfilling nature of the job. Last, but by no means least, is Amador (Mar Adentro's Celso Bugallo), whose wife left him soon after he lost his job, and who spends his days lost in a fantasy world where she's on her way back to him. De Aranoa and co-screenwriter Ignacio del Moral put these guys in the situation, then pretty much sit back and let things unfold as they will.
I don't think it's a spoiler to say this will not end well, especially now, ten years later, and especially not in America. Reviews of the movie posted back in the day on IMDB often end with an imprecation along the lines of ‚...and the viewer will end up hoping he never has to live through this.‚? Fast-forward to 2012, and in the cases of some folks I know, three years out of work is something they saw in the rear view mirror back in 2011. I'm not sure why I put off watching this movie until now (I'm a huge Javier Bardem fan and will watch him in anything), but I'm not sure, having now seen it, whether it would have had the impact on me it did had I watched it when it first came out. Now, I know these people. In fact, some of them are my closest friends; all of us have, at some point in the past decade, been out of work for at least a year (yours truly included). It's funny how the universe works like that. And with the benfit of that hindsight, I will tell you that these screenwriters and these actors have done their damnedest to come up with the gritty ugliness of the situation and present it in as realistic a way as possible. The problem being, of course, that ‚realistic‚? brings us back to where we are at the beginning of this paragraph‚"knowing that things will not end well.
Be that as it may, and with the warning from the first paragraph in mind that this movie may require multiple viewings to get to the bottom of and I can't imagine anyone with a shred of empathy having the fortitude to watch it more than once, it's still well worth that one watch. Especially if you can identify with the situation, even indirectly. ***