Eye For Film >> Movies >> Mondays In The Sun (2002) Film Review
Mondays In The Sun
Reviewed by: Symon Parsons
In a Galicia shipyard, riot police put down a demonstration by the workforce. Tyres burn, bottles fly, tear gas cannisters are fired. At least, in defeat the workers are united.
Two years later, it's a different story. Unemployment has taken its toll and the lives of the laid-off workers have taken separate paths. Rico (Joaquin Climent) owns a depressing bar where the others gather to share their woes, bicker and comment on the inevitable telly.
If there is a leader, it is Santa (the wonderful Javier Bardem, seen most recently in The Sea Inside). He is a rebel, still fighting the shipyard bosses in his mind and in court. At least, Lino (Jose Angel Egido) is moving on, or trying to. He's finding it hard, back on the job market, competing against twentysomethings. Jose (Luis Tosar) has a wife who works in the tuna cannery, but worries that his continued unemployment is driving her into the arms of another man, while the aging Amador (Celso Bugallo) has accepted he will never work again.
This episodic, meandering film follows the men as they wander the streets, hang out in bars and offer advice to each other. Should Santa pay for damage he caused during the strike? Should Lino colour his hair? How can Jose keep his wife? Meanwhile, Santa screws aimlessly and Jose's drinking is getting out of control. It's like Boys From The Blackstuff, Spanish-style, a tragic story, told with love and black humour. As an ex-cosmonaut says, "They told us wonderful things about communism, and it was all lies. They told us terrible things about capitalism, but unfortunately it's all true."
Writer/director Fernando Leon de Aranoa loves his actors; he loves their faces and they don't let him down. All the pathos and humour of their situation is expressed by a glance, or a shrug. Bardem, in particular, is wonderful. Santa is an amoral womaniser, who understands that the struggle isn't about beating the system but in looking out for each other.
"Like Siamese twins - if one of us gets fucked, we're all fucked."
In the end, unemployment takes everything from the men but that bond. Lino compromises by attempting a younger look and Santa ends up taking babysitting jobs from a 15-year-old girl. Amador attempts to retain his dignity on leaving the bar. "I didn't fall down," he mutters, face first in the dirt "I threw myself down."
Aranoa's film, which won four Goyas, pushes a strong political message. "This film is not based on a real story. It is based on thousands," reads the movie's tag line. Contained within it is a warning that if society doesn't exist, the employment and dignity of every one of us could be sold for profit.
Putting the politics to one side, Mondays In The Sun can be appreciated for its humanity and warmth alone.Reviewed on: 27 May 2005