Film

Mondays in the Sun (Los lunes al sol) (2002)

Cynthia Fuchs

As Mondays in the Sun begins, Santa is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain his sense of humor and optimism.


Mondays in the Sun (los Lunes Al Sol)

Director: #243;n de Aranda
Display Artist: Fernando León de Aranda
MPAA rating: Unrated
Studio: Lions Gate Films
Cast: Javier Bardem, Luis Tosar, José Ángel Egido, Nieve de Medina, Enrique Villén, Celso Bugallo, Joaquín Climent, Aida Folch
First date: 2002
US Release Date: 2003-08-08 (Limited release)

Santa (Javier Bardem) is in trouble. He's in several sorts of trouble, actually, being jobless and depressed and not a little tired of seeing prostitutes for sex. But he's also in specific trouble, with the law. During a strike at the shipyard where he used to work, he got carried away and smashed a streetlight. Now the company is demanding payment. 8,000 pesetas. "How can I pay it?" he asks his lawyer in exasperation. "I pay them for laying me off?"

As Fernando León de Aranoa's Mondays in the Sun begins, Santa is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain his sense of humor and optimism, having been out of work long enough to believe he won't find work that meets his skill or interest levels. He explains this to himself (and any friends he can get to listen) as part of a system: noxious capitalism is designed to use up and discard laborers, while producing profits for management. To pass time and look elsewhere, he dreams of traveling to Australia, where the waters are clean and the horizon is endless.

Until then, he spends his days in a small fishing town in Northern Spain, sort of looking for work -- on Mondays, he and his friends enjoy the sun, a luxury they never had while working. During the rest of the week, Santa and José (Luis Tosar) accompany Lino (José Ángel Egido) on the ferry, as he heads to the city in search of a new job. Hoping that the rudimentary computer skills he's learning from his son might help, Lino believes that if only he can get in the door for an interview, he'll convince some young executive to hire him, based on his experience and wisdom. When even this possibility starts to look unlikely, he decides to dye his hair and wear his son's "youthful" clothes -- as he waits outside one office, he sweats profusely, so that the dye runs in telltale rivulets down his jowls.

José, for his part, focuses his self-doubt through his wife, Ana (Nieve De Medina), believing that she's lost patience. She works at the tuna cannery -- grueling, annoying, wearying work (she's losing the feeling in her legs, and each night José massages them). When he spots her getting a ride home from one of her floor managers, José imagines the worst. Unable even to ask her about it, he burrows inside himself, exploding only at the most inopportune moment, when they're in a banker's office hoping to get a loan. Believing the banker has impugned his manhood, José ruins their chances, leaving Ana fuming on the sidewalk: "We have nothing," she says, "and all because of work. No house, no kids, no money." José can only storm off in an impotent display of his guilt and sorrow, returning to her bed at night, fearful and quiet and apologetic.

In the evenings, all three friends head to a bar owned by Rico (Joaquín Climent), who used his severance pay from the shipyard as a down payment. He offers the example of another route, which Santa and José both resent and admire, and the bar offers the added incentive of visits with Rico's 15-year-old daughter Natalia (Aïda Folch). Self-aware and poised, she's intrigued by the charismatic Santa, who flirts with her partly to remind himself that he still can flirt. He works out a deal with Nata to take her babysitting job, so she can go out with her boyfriend and he can take home the paltry night's earnings.

Happy for the company, he brings his friends along ("We're all looking after the child"), so they can spend an evening drinking fine liquor on a terrace, imagining how it would be to have a regular life, with new shoes in the closet and books on shelves. Still, frustration broils just beneath the surface. When Santa reads the child to sleep with the fable of the ant and the grasshopper, he can't help himself; he starts railing against the ant's capitulation to the system.

At Rico's, they discuss politics, their shared past at the shipyard, and their anger, but rarely do they broach the subject of the future. Each night they watch the elderly Amador (Celso Bugallo), out of work for much longer than Santa and his cohorts, descend into drunken stupor. Though Amador declares that his wife is only gone temporarily, Santa discovers one evening -- when he takes a passed out Amador back to his teeny apartment -- that she's never returning. The apartment is a wreck -- the water's turned off, clothing and dishes are scattered everywhere. Santa is startled by this image of his own possible future, entirely hopeless and distressing.

The guys find occasional respite from their dreary routines, in another routine. Another friend, Reina (Enrique Villén), has found part time work as a security guard at a local soccer field. Some evenings, he sneaks his friends inside a construction site overlooking the field, so they can watch what amounts to half the game: one end of the field is completely obscured from their vantage point, so when the crowd roars, the guys can only guess what's just happened; still, they yell along with gusto, understanding the game well enough that they can guess at the action. It's a charming and revealing moment, in which the men relish feeling like ordinary men, rowdy and coherent for fleeting moments.

Winner of five Goya Awards (Best Film, Director and three acting awards), Mondays in the Sun repeats its point, that unemployment depletes energy and identity, but in subtle, ever engaging ways. The film offers no overt trajectory, and no triumph over adversity, unless you count Santa's repeat offense against the streetlight, which grants him a brief, understandable high, even if it accomplishes nothing else. Mondays in the Sun can only look forward to more of the same, the days running together. "What day is today?" they wonder at film's end. And how can it matter?


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.