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Monday Morning (Otar Ioseliani) 2002

   

    The droll wake-up routine that kicks off Otar Ioselianiís Monday Morning sets up the world the story takes place in as one thatís slightly skewed, but itís tough to get a handle on exactly what rules the movie is playing by. The straight-laced protagonist drives an absurd little blue car thatís put in contrast against the normal looking ones that the rest of his co-workers motor about in. This suggests his character stands somewhere outside of most of society, but when his neighbors are introduced, each of them seems equally as eccentric as the main character. Monday Morning wants to bemoan the drudgery that has risen from modern life due to incessant, mind-numbing routine, but itís tough to imagine growing bored in a world as vividly realized and frequently diverting as this one. Every individual the film looks at seems more interesting than the last, and when then protagonist goes AWOL from work and disappears from the movie for an extended period, Ioseliani has no difficulty filling the void with the quirkiness provided by the rest of his cast. Although weíre meant to see the absurdity in their actions, they seem no more or less ridiculous than the protagonist, who rebels against the world so meekly that people scarcely notice.

   

    Monday Morning has its finger on a certain kind of modern day ennui that comes about when an adult realizes the obligations of the working world prevent him from explorting his interests as fully as when he was a child. The sort of disillusionment that arrives with that revelation is conveyed here in a semi-successful, whimsical style that explicitly recalls the films of Jacques Tati (the postman in the small town where the film takes place is a Hulot look-alike who reads the mail of his customers) and only further stresses the leadís inability to seize the wonders than exist around him. The mildly amusing tone that the film establishes in its first moments never wavers, however. This is a film about the irksome, tiresome nature of complacency that remains utterly satisfied to remain the same throughout. Even as the hero of the story rediscovers his passion in life, the mood remains oddly detached. The audience never feels the relief and enthusiasm that the protagonist must when he escapes his habitual monotony, and Monday Morning is a punishing exercise as a result.

 

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Jeremy Heilman 

10-18-02