Movie Review: What Happened to Monday

If you liked the film Soylent Green and other films that comment on global problems, then this bone-chilling film will be right up your alley. What Happened to Monday not only showcases an accurate depiction of an overpopulated world, but it also distinguishes the seven almost-identical main characters. The film effectively establishes the life or death stakes for the main characters in the first 30 minutes of the film, successfully making realistic characters that make the viewer want to see them survive and succeed. But could these dangers of overpopulation be a realistic commentary of where our own society is headed to?

This dystopian science fiction thriller film, directed by Tommy Wirkota, is set in a future so overpopulated that a worldwide one-child policy, called the Child Allocation Act, limits one child per family. Any second-born children, also referred to as "siblings" in the film, that are found are immediately taken by the Child Allocation Bureau and are put into cryosleep. The film follows a pair of septuplets who are taught by their grandfather to become the single identity of Karen Settman, named after the septuplets' deceased mother. Each septuplet is named after a day of the week and is constantly told that they are only allowed to leave their shared apartment on the same day as their names: Monday can only leave on Mondays, Tuesday on Tuesdays, and so on. If they don’t follow this crucial rule or if more than two of them go out at once, it risks the very real possibility of them getting caught and all of the siblings, except for the eldest, to be taken away and put into cryosleep. This Netflix film, released on August 18, 2017 on Netflix’s video streaming platform, explores the very real and not often publicized global problem that is overpopulation.

Could this image of an overpopulated world be an accurate commentary on where we, in reality, are headed? This thought kept playing over and over in my head as I watched this film. I came to the realization that this film’s dystopian setting can truly be our own reality if the problem of overpopulation is not solved sooner, which only added to the bone-chilling feeling this film produces. To summarize, the film begins by explaining the cause and effects that lead to the need for the Child Allocation Act. Due to overpopulation, climate change and food resources are diminished, resulting in low food resources that can’t supply a population of almost ten billion, which the world in the film has reached. To solve this problem, scientists developed genetically modified crops to increase the food supply. However, the genetically modified crops, in turn, increase multiple births and birth defects. As you can imagine, this is basically the equivalent of adding gasoline to a fire. This situation brings the Child Allocation Act into play, setting the scene for the rest of the film. This chain of events seems shocking at first but, upon a closer inspection, isn’t a new concept. Our own world has an estimated maximum capacity of around 9-10 billion people, but our current 7.5 billion population demonstrates how closely we are walking this fine line that is shown in the film. Add our increased use of genetically modified food that we currently have on our grocery shelves and the one child policy that was once a huge part of China’s history, this sci-fi film is starting to look less like fiction and more like reality. This key plot aspect is one of the things that I love the most about this film, and is also the reason why I will recommend this film to anyone and everyone I know.

Many critiques of the film dislike it due to the characterization of the seven main characters who make up the septuplets. Though, I’ll admit, they may seem stereotypical, the limited film time of a little over two hours restricts the characterization of seven almost identical sisters. However, the film effectively distinguishes most, if not all, of the sisters. From their personality to their normal home appearance, the film gives each sister a sense of individuality that can identify each sister within the first 20 minutes. For example, Wednesday is the tomboy with shoulder length black hair, and she often exercises and is more masculine than her sisters. Thursday is the rebellious sister with a very short, boyish haircut, she acts out, questions society, and often causes conflict due to her rebellious attitude. The fact that each sister could easily be summed up in only one sentence demonstrates the point of other critiques, establishing this to be a weak point in the film, however, the fact that the sisters are quickly and easily individualized should also be noted. And though some sisters have character development in the film, those being the ones we follow the most throughout the film, this brief characterization of all seven characters is a commonplace aspect of films due to their limited time span. This aspect should not put off anyone who hasn’t watched the movie.

What Happened to Monday is a thought-provoking, science fiction thriller that makes you question antagonistic motives, reevaluate overpopulation and the consequences, question just how far you would go to save or even back-stab your own siblings. I highly recommend checking this film out. The film makes you question its commentary about overpopulation and is a much needed spotlight on this global problem.

film poster ©Netflix 2017

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