The Movie “What Happened to Monday” Has Deep Messages
Posted by Xena
No, Monday does not literally refer to a day of the week in this movie.
I’ve always enjoyed futuristic films about how the powers-that-be seek to control how others live and think. In What Happened to Monday, there are shades of The Matrix, In Time, and as it concerns the dishonesty of the powers-that- be, Soylent Green.
There are some movies, such as The Matrix and In Time where we are not told how mankind came to the futuristic conditions. What Happened to Monday does tells us. There are some spoilers because I’m not a movie reviewer but simply like the symbolism and messages contained in movies and like discussing them.
What Happened To Monday is a Netflix film, titled Seven Sisters in Canada, France, Italy and Slovakia. It was released in 2017.
Around the year 2043, overpopulation has caused a worldwide crisis in food and water shortages. Man developed super genetic food to feed the world and as a result, humans started giving birth to litters of children. I say litters because the movie is about septuplets – 7 identical sisters. Their mom died during childbirth and Terrence Settman, played by actor Willem Dafoe, keeps the multiple births secretive and raises his granddaughters. He names each one after a day of the week.
In their apartment, each sister can be herself. Outside however, each one has to be Karen Settman, and they are only allowed outside on the day that they are named after. This also means that they have to decide what career they will all share because Monday goes to work on that day; Tuesday goes to the same job on that day, etc. Noomi Rapace plays all seven of the sisters, and she does a great acting job.
By now you’re probably wondering why Terrence made that arrangement. It’s because the government developed a program called Child Allocation Bureau, (C.A.B.) ran by Nicolette Cayman, played by Glenn Close. When multiple children are born to one mother, all but the eldest are put into cryosleep. Only one child is allowed to be raised because Cayman believes that raising more than one child takes food and water from others.
To fix the problem with siblings, C.A.B. has agents to take siblings into custody and “cryogenically” freeze them until a time when man finds a way to create more natural resources. Residential areas are separated from business areas. To enter a business area, people are checked by C.A.B. agents who check their identification bracelets. When purchasing food, (which has been reduced to eating rats), identification bracelets are also checked.
(In the movie, there are shades of Nazi Germany and shades of how the U.S. government is now asking for proof of citizenship on buses.)
Since it seems obvious in the movie that the government issues identification bracelets, (Terrence made bracelets for his granddaughters), siblings are unable to make purchases. They are taking a chance being outside their dwellings without an I.D. bracelet.
The movie spans 30 years in the life of the septuplets. For me, it raised questions, such as what happens when the resources problem is resolved and all of those frozen children are awakened? They will have no family to raise them. Having no siblings is not limited to the current generation. It also means having no aunts or uncles.
As I watched the film, I asked how much money was being spent to keep massive amounts of children frozen and why wasn’t that money being spent to develop food and water? This led me to anticipate what would be revealed by the end of the movie.
Another thing I noticed about the movie is that guns will not operate without the finger print of the gun owner or in the case of C.A.B. agents, the fingerprint of the agent. It sounds like a solution to stop the use of stolen or unregistered guns. However, as the movie shows, all it takes is a sharp knife to the trigger finger of the gun owner … (you get the idea).
An obvious anticipation to the movie’s title is that Monday goes missing. However, why Monday goes missing is also a point in the title. Something happened to Monday beyond her not coming home from work one day.
Karen/Monday and Cayman make a deal. Cayman will kill all of Monday’s siblings. Why? What happened to Monday to bring her to agree that Cayman execute her 6 sisters? Cayman doesn’t want the world to know that 7 siblings lived for 30 years on rations for one person without detection, and she feels that if the truth is known about their survival, that it will destroy her credibility. That is when the movie turns into an action/detective thriller.
Monday is in love with a C.A.B. agent that checks I.D. and the entry point to the business where Karen/Monday works. They only get together one day of the week — you guessed it — Monday. The C.A.B. agent wants to spend more time with Karen. He is unaware that the Karen he sees on other days coming to work are Monday’s siblings.
The 7 sisters were taught that everything they see, say and do while outside of the apartment is shared with all of the sisters. That is necessary so that people who see Wednesday on Wednesday and Thursday on Thursday might strike up a conversation about what they talked about on Friday a week ago.
Monday did not tell her 6 siblings about her love affair. They learned about it by accident after Monday went missing and another sibling, as Karen, talked with the C.A.B. agent. At the end of the movie, we also learn that Monday is pregnant with twins. How can a woman in love who is pregnant only be her real self on one day of the week? How can her siblings be her on all other days?
All things at the end of the movie are not roses, but a good thing is that Cayman is exposed as the liar she is and the truth is revealed about cryosleep – it is not about saving siblings until there is enough food to feed the world — it is an incinerator. Cayman was charged with murder, and the C.A.B. program was repealed.
What are the social messages in What Happened To Monday? There are many. In one scene, we see a sign for voluntary sterilization. The movie conveys the idea that the government in control was anti-choice; did not allow abortions nor planned parenthood for birth control. People had no choice but to be sterilized or take the risk of having more than one child. As another example, to defend herself against being dishonest about cryosleep, Cayman stated that the children did not suffer, and were better off dead than living in overpopulated conditions.
Before her deception was revealed, Cayman introduced that because overpopulation was not under control, that certain families would not be allowed to keep and raise even one child. Her program was to be income based which means, the movie conveyed that the poor would never be provided with opportunities to improve their condition.
As Willem Dafoe stated in an interview, “It’s not so different than the world we live in today.”