Friday, August 05, 2005

The Girl from Monday (2005)

I'd call this, the latest from indie stalwart Hal Hartley, the most underrated film of the year if I wasn't convinced that I'm the only person who thinks it's underrated. It does puzzle me, though, how others can be dismissive of this ferocious firecracker from the underground. Set in a society that appears to be fifteen minutes into the future, Hartley's narrative involves the increasing political power of the corporate entity, the commodification of humanity and the celebration of mediocrity. It's not dissimilar to Brave New World, especially considering both narratives introduce an innocent into the modern society. But Hartley's satiric sensibilites are closer to Jonathan Swift's "A Modern Proposal" -- obvious, occasionally crude but frightfully effective. Hartley's wit isn't as dry as usual here, but it's still prominent and the film has a number of biliously funny moments (including what has to be the best pickup line ever, "Let's fuck and increase our buying power!"). He's also still pretty good with actors, and he gets a gem of a performance here out of Sabrina Lloyd, who plays a disgraced corporate executive. The super-low-budget visuals, too, work for rather than against the film. Normally, I'm not that big a fan of DV, but the smeary-on-purpose cinematography makes the film feel both just detached enough from our world to be effective satire and at the same time close enough to a dream that it might be our world after all. The film's only real weakness, as I can see it, is the handling of the title character -- her scenes are often pointless and not nearly as interesting as the rest of the film. (The Brazilian model Hartley hired to play her is, shall we say, deficient in the acting department.) But considering she shows up in only about a quarter of the film, it's not as damaging as it could be. I'll probably remain at year's end the only person who loves this. But then, somebody's got to do it.

Grade: A-


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