The year is 2073. The population has doubled over the past decades and use of fossil fuel and resources has quadrupled. Overpopulation has depleted most of Earth’s resources, resulting in a strict one-child policy. Only the seven Settman siblings have managed to survive, through cautious hiding and flawless replication of every physical trait. However, one day, the eldest sister Monday disappears, and the film unravels the mystery of what happened to her.
What Happened to Monday (2017) is a dystopian science fiction movie released by Netflix. The first part of the film captures the audience with an intriguing premise–seven different individuals that talk, behave, and dress the same to fool the outside world into thinking they are one person. The latter part of the film equally lives up to the expectations of its mature audience. Many find the graphic action and thrilling manhunt for each sister exciting, and the gore and violence-filled search for Monday cathartic.
The film does not port ray a completely unrealistic future. The onechild policy is not an entirely unfamiliar concept to the real world thanks to China, which has only recently relaxed the policy. Overpopulation and scarce resources are a real problem even in this day. The only fictional twist added in the film is the extremity of how things turn out in the future. The violation of human rights by taking children away from their mothers is perceived as a small inconvenience rather than inhumane and immoral in this dystopian society.
The Child Allocation Act that permits one child per family is a huge part of the film’s core premise. Any siblings found alive are put to sleep to be awakened when Earth becomes capable of supporting more lives. The interesting twist to the premise is Karen Settman, the identity that the identical septuplets take on in order to survive. The names of the seven sisters are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and every other day of the week and each of them leave the house on the day of their name.
The seven sisters were raised under the strict discipline of “what happens to one of you, happens to all of you.” The film shows Terrance Settman, their grandfather, chopping off the tip of a finger of all his grandchildren after Thursday comes back home with an injury. The scene shows the extent of what the seven Settman sisters went through to truly be seen as the same person to the outside world. Thus they created Karen Settman, a hard-working and competent high-ranking member of a financial firm, defined by her signature red lips, blue dress, and sharp bangs.
The Gender Swap
Actress Noomi Rapace plays all seven Settman sisters in the film. The film’s script initially went trough a major rewrite when film director Tommy Wirkola decided he wanted Rapace to play the main character in the film. The original script that was centered on seven brothers before the major rewrite was drastically modified to focus on seven sisters for Rapace. And Rapace did not fail to deliver the performance she promised.
The major gender switch from male to female is empowering and suggests a wider range of representation of women in Hollywood films. Her brilliant performance received many critics’ acclaim and her commitment to her role was undoubtedly praiseworthy. She embodied each character with her own interpretation and went through a strict routine to get into character before each shoot.
One Actress, Seven Roles
The production team remarked that Rapace “would wear a different perfume for each character, and play different music” to prep for each different shoot. Wirkola described the process as “physically and emotionally draining” for Rapace. The actress said, “I was dying in the morning. I was reacting to my own death during the day. I needed five different ways of crying and being shocked and being upset.”
▲ What Happened to Monday Poster
The uniqueness of each character is reflected most in the dinner table scene where all seven sisters sit around the dinner table and eat supper. Despite their physical similarity, each character has her own style, demeanor, and personality when not living as Karen Settman. Rapace’s sharp portrayal of each distinct woman along with the costumes and makeup are what make the film itself worth watching, as it is not at all confusing to distinguish each character.
For instance, Monday, the eldest, is portrayed as a workaholic who feels a great responsibility to perfectly uphold the role of Karen Settman. Her resemblance in style and behavior to Karen Settman reflects how she does not only play the role outside but also sees herself as Karen Settman. Saturday on the other hand displays a flirtatious personality. Her blond hair, bold makeup, and pink Juicy sweatpants make her stand out the most. Despite little time invested in each character’s development, each character shows details and uniqueness in nature throughout the film.
Tyranny of the Majority
As the film unravels what happened to Monday, the audience is led to a huge twist toward the climax of the film. The ending of the film reveals what humans are capable of doing to survive at the expense of others. For the sake of spoilers, readers are welcomed to watch the film and find out what happens during the twist. The film does not fail to deliver fear and unease that lingers even after the end of the movie.
The society depicted in the film, centered on the well-being of the majority, portrays tyranny in its cruelest form. The apathy towards inhumane policies pursued by the government underlines how a severe threat to our existence could bring forward brutal ignorance to society.