By Rachel Papulkas
A whirlwind romance in Athens, a weekend of passion – but can it survive the inevitable Monday?
Making its Canadian theatrical debut at the Greek International Film Festival Tour of Canada (September 30th-October 9th) is Argyris Papadimitropoulos’s MONDAY. Helmed by Sebastian Stan and Denise Gough, MONDAY follows the tumultuous, turbulent relationship between two strangers who meet while partying in Athens. After their passionate fling – and a missed flight – leads to a declaration of love, the pair decide to put their newfound love to the test by moving in together. Over the course of multiple weekends, Chloe and Mickey navigate jealousy, responsibility, and what happens after the shine of the honeymoon phase wears off.
Billed as a romantic drama, MONDAY offers audiences a more nuanced perspective on the subject of love. Do two people in love always bring out the best in the other? Director Papadimitropoulos, along with co-writer Rob Hayes, aimed to discuss just that. “I wanted to explore why two people, who were in love at some point in their lives, can become the worst versions of themselves.” Papadimitropoulos says of the story’s origins, adding that stories he’d heard from personal friends helped inspire the script. Fragmenting the progression of Chloe and Mickey’s relationship through a series of weekends – all containing parties and sex remniscient of their first – was an intentional, stylistic choice of Papadimitropoulos. “I wanted to explore through how they make love and the way they party their relationship changes from something ecstatic and exciting to something almost banal.”
Hailing from Greece, and thus familiar with the vibrancy and community of Athens, Papadimitropoulos couldn’t imagine filming MONDAY anywhere else. With the film capturing the chaotic highs and lows of two people in love, he knew there was no better-suited place to capture those experiences than the extroverted “city that never sleeps.” The city’s community and vibrancy was an experience Papadimitropoulos was happy to introduce to Stan and Gouche. Behind-the-scenes, the cast and crew bonded leading up to and throughout filming via partying and experiencing what the city had to offer. It was essential to Papadimitropoulos that the cast and crew knew each other, and were able to form strong bonds off-screen.
“Shooting films is a familial thing. Getting to meet each other and open up.” The director philosophizes. To him, filmmaking is more than just directing his actors around and ensuring they know their marks. He values authenticity in his filmmaking, and believes that approaching it as merely a production can make the process feel “robotic.” Authenticity is why he also doesn’t let his actors rely heavily on a script. Instead, Stan and Gough were encouraged to improvise and experiment as much as possible in building to the larger point of a scene. Filmmaking is a mercurial process to Papadimitropoulos, and he was thrilled to find two leads who were enthusiastic about jumping onboard.
“You’re looking for talented people that want to do something different, edgier, wilder, free-spirit. People who are happy to improvise.” Papadimitropoulos says of casting Stan and Gough. “[Actors who are] generous and want to give their best to the film.”
Reflecting upon his experiences filming MONDAY, Papadimitropoulos fondly recalls a party scene with 1200 people on a main street as one of his favourite memories. “There was real music playing, and we threw an actual party.” Forgoing hiring professional extras in favor of real partygoers, the Monday crew “made themselves invisible” in the midst of crowds while filming. Real dancing, real music – authenticness that Papadimitropoulos appreciates.
Now with the film making its return to Toronto theatres after its initial 2020 debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, Papadimitropoulos has had time to reflect on the films international success. “It’s very nice to know that your story and film, and something you dreamed of doing back then, now reaches people so far away from you.”
He also adds that hearing from audience members who reach out about the film – from different countries and cultures – is an impactful reminder of what makes filmmaking a special experience. “Hundreds of people wrote to me, “this film makes me want to go to Greece now.’” Knowing that his film is able to translate much of Greece’s beauty leaves the director feeling “happy and proud” with what MONDAY has achieved.
MONDAY is a featured film at the Greek International Film Festival Tour of Canada. Tickets are on sale now. For more information on location and tickets, please visit www.gifft.ca.