Blue Monday: Hartley Sci-Fi Lacks F/X and Affect


An ultimately drab sci-fi satire of contemporary corporatized culture, The Girl From Monday shoots for Alphaville but arrives at something closer to an extended episode of Sliders. Lacking both F/X and affect, Hal Hartley’s film takes place in a future New York that looks and feels like now; adman narrator Jack Bell (Bill Sage) explains that mega-firm Triple M—the Multi Media Monopoly—now controls the government, resulting in a new “dictatorship of the consumer” fueled by “the income generated by the pursuit of happiness.” The changes wrought by Triple M could have been culled from a moldering stack of New York Times Sunday magazines: bar code tattoos, socially manipulative PR agencies, computer-matched sex partners, schoolkids both in virtual-reality helmets and on mood-altering drugs, and of course terrorists, here posited as anti-globalization-style “counter-revolutionaries withno credit rating.”

Enter into this world-like-our-own the titular femme (Brazilian model Tatiana Abracos), who’s secretly an alien from the constellation Monday, representing a collectivized alien race and, perhaps, a lingering leftist hope. Though there are moments of clever humor—particularly a boardroom brainstorming session on how to market elective heart surgery to thirtysomethings—the film’s anti-capitalist talking points provide mostly pre-digested food for thought; indeed, similar themes have been more interestingly explored by numerous big-budget Hollywood sci-fi pictures. Hartley’s aesthetic choices fare no better: Streaky low-frame-rate DV, Dogme-style mundane interiors, and merely unembarrassing televisual performances add up to a monotonous, unenlightening experience.