Monday, December 11, 2017

7 Sisters (aka "What Happened To Monday")

2017, d. Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) -- Netflix

In the not too distant future, scientists solve the Earth's hunger problem with genetically modified foods, unfortunately the GMOs also become the cause of an epidemic of multiple births...we're not talking just twins, but litters of 7 or 8 kids at once.  All of a sudden the Earth's population skyrockets astronomically putting a strain on all its resources.  The solution is a global 1-child per family policy.  If another child is born (or if multiple children are born) the other children are placed in cryosleep, waiting for a time where the Earth can once again sustain them.

Now, this whole situation raises a lot of damn questions.  Like, if multiple births was such an epidemic, wouldn't placing this vast sea of children into cryogenic storage have a pretty sizeable impact on energy and the environment.  The sudden demand for tens of millions upon tens of millions of "living graves" would be a huge, almost unmanageable venture.  But we're not supposed to think about that...this is all just set-up.

We meet Terrence Settman (Willem Dafoe) who has just lost his daughter after she gave birth to seven children.  Having inroads with some of the people at the hospital, the seven sisters are not reported to the Child Allocation Bureau, and Terrence raises the girls, giving them each the name of a day of the week.  They aren't allowed to go outside together, but at the age of seven, he gives them the identity of his daughter, Karen, and allows each of them to adopt the personality for the day they are named after.  This continues for 30 years, the girls living a sheltered life and yet "Karen" is a successful...erm...businessperson of some sort at a high powered...company of some type (sometimes details in this film are deemed too inconsequential to matter).  There's definitely some building animosity among the women after all this time, and some resentment to having to share the public identity, but they've been taught by Terrence that the safety of the family is important above all else.

So when Monday goes missing, they wait until the next day to investigate, with Tuesday heading out as Karen, unsure whether they've been flagged by the C.A.B. or not.  Tuesday finds out some information, but things start to go south pretty quick.  Tuesday is clandestinely captured, and the sibling's home is invaded by mercenaries.  It's rather shocking how quickly the cast of seven sisters is whittled down.

The film progresses adding little nuggets of conspiracy which don't present so much a mystery as a rather obvious roadmap of what's happened.  And then the film plays out pretty much as expected.  Yes this is a highly predictable film (which I presume is why they abandoned the title "What Happened To Monday?" in favor of 7 Sisters... it's not that big a question in the film.  We have a pretty good hunch by about halfway through what happened).  It's not unwatchable but it's wholly on the B-grade scale of genre films, sitting with the Underworld or Resident Evil franchises or your Luc Besson-produced "notbuster" action flick.

Noomi Rapace is tasked with the task of being the knockoff Orphan Black in this one, managing to give each sister a bit of their own distinct personality, but to be honest, director Tommy Wirkola doesn't give us nearly enough time with them for us to really establish who they are as individuals.  What would have been most fascinating is if the film gave us the world building back-story (which, again, is flawed but provides enough of its own in-world logic to draw you in) and then a quick 7-10 minute walk through of each sister as Karen on her day... so that we can see how they behave that's different from the rest.  Really we only get to see Sunday and Monday before the shit goes down, and it's not enough to invest us in their lives. 

The flashbacks with Dafoe are great, but they seem to miss a lot of the emotional aspect of their situation (the young actress playing the sisters is great).  In fact the entire film struggles emotionally, as siblings witness their sisters' deaths then have to move on...but it's almost too easy for them to do so.  I can only imagine how difficult it was for Rapace to perform all of the multiple sequences and she does a fairly good job at time, but also she's too often detached in most role, perhaps not entirely invested in each sister (or perhaps not entirely prepared to play them).

The screenplay to this seems rushed, with events happening without much of a natural flow or logic.  Glenn Close plays the Doctor/Politician who created the 1-child law, and seems too personally invested in enforcing it for a woman of her high status.  Her point is she's made the hard decisions so that humanity can survive, and we're supposed to be left to wonder if she isn't right, no matter how unpopular her actions may seem.  It's a faux-headiness the film tries to inject into its stunted action/sci-fi/mystery at both the beginning and end, but doesn't seem to be given much thought in between.

Seven Sisters would have been better served as a suspense/mystery story, rather than a misguided action movie.