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Mondays in the Sun (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

INSPIRED by the real-life story of shipyard employees who were suddenly sacked in the Spanish port town of Vigo, Mondays in the Sun is a compelling character study that boasts another mesmerising performance from Javier Bardem.

Based three years after the termination of his employment, the film follows the fortunes of Santa (Bardem) and his small group of misfits, who spend their days drinking in a seafront bar and reflecting on their troubled existence.

Santa, especially, is a quick-tempered loner, prone to ranting against the system and picking arguments with anyone not willing to lend him a sympathetic ear.

But his colleagues are a similarly desperate bunch of no-hopers, who only half-heartedly look for a way out of their hard-up predicament.

Lino (Jose Angel Egido), for example, insists on dying his hair in a bid to look younger, despite continually applying for the wrong sort of jobs, while Jose (Luis Tosar), has been forced to allow his wife to become the main bread-winner, even though it lowers his self-esteem in the process.

Each cling to the past as though it were yesterday, lamenting the skills they have been forced to relinquish and clinging to the false hope that life will get better.

Only the suicide of another former co-worker prompts them to awaken from their slumber and make some sort of statement in the only way they can.

Fernando Leon de Aranoa's absorbing film may sound quite depressing but thanks to its cast - and especially Bardem - it is a darkly funny, occasionally moving character study that provides plenty of food for thought.

Ironically, it has only surfaced in the UK some three years after it was put forward as Spain's official Oscar contender (ahead of Pedro Almodovar's Talk To Her), no doubt buoyed by the acclaim surrounding Bardem for The Sea Inside.

But if, like me, you found his work in that film astonishing, then you won't want to miss out on Mondays in the Sun.

He exudes a charisma and an intensity reserved for cinema's true greats and delivers yet another performance that places him on a par with the likes of Pacino and a young De Niro.

What's more, he is part of an ensemble cast that's every bit as entertaining, thereby providing a fascinating insight into one of the darker chapters of recent Spanish history.

(In Spanish, with subtitles; 1hr 53mins)

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