July 2003
Mondays in the Sun : (Los Lunes al Sol)

Reviewed by Wilson Morales

Mondays in the Sun: (Los Lunes al Sol)
Distributor: Lions Gate Films
Director: Fernando Leon de Aranoa
Producer: Elias Querejeta P.C
Screenwriter: Fernando Leon de Aranoa
Cast: Javier Bardem, Luis Tosar, Jose Angel Egido, Nieve de Medina, Joaquin Liment & Enrique Villen
Composer: Lucio Godoy, soundtrack available on http://www.milanrecords.com
Language: In Spanish with English subtitles

In the midst of summer sequels and other blockbusters that make up for mindless entertainment, here comes a film that brings reality to the big screen. While the dollars to see a film have gone up recently, so has unemployment. More and more folks are being laid off and can’t afford to take dates or family any film nowadays. The bootleg market is thriving in these difficult times. But through this period, folks still have their wits and friends to keep them happy until the situation gets better. Nominated for an Oscar last year for best foreign film and coming out now is “Mondays in the Sun”, a heartfelt story about a group of guys whose friendship gives each a peace of mind while still struggling to find work during hard times.

Set in the north of Spain, Santa (Bardem) is the “high spirit” amongst a group of six unemployed shipyard workers. On the outside, he appears to be cool about not working, while inside he craves for money as he’s about to pay a heft fine for damaging a lamppost during the time he was working and striking. Rico (Liment) uses all his severance on liquor where he drinks it in the bar where the guys hang out. Too alone to go home, the bar and his friends are his solace. With his friends lacking the funds to see the soccer game at the stadium, Reina (Villem) is happy to found a job as a night watchman on the field, where his status allows the guys to see the game from a certain standpoint. Jose is totally depressed over being unemployed. His laziness to look for other work is putting a strain on his marriage, as his wife contemplates leaving him for her sake. Lino (Egido) is the family man within the group. Too old to compete for certain jobs and being rejected for lots of jobs, he resorts to dyeing his hair and “borrowing” his son’s clothes to make his appearance look more marketable. Each man has a tale to be told as their struggle to find work takes its toll at certain points. But through it all, their bond at the bar is what keeps them from being alone and helps them find their wit, their patience, and hope that things will turn for the better.

The winner of 5 Goya awards, Spain’s equivalent to the Oscars, Director de Aranoa has done a splendid job in making this an enjoyable ensemble film. Although Bardem is the biggest name in the film in regards to worldwide recognition, he doesn’t hog the screen. Bardem, who put on some weight for the film and grew a beard to look different, is clearly a presence in the film. His performance is flawless as his character’s laid back attitude towards life speaks to some of today’s common man. Each of the other actors turned in fine performances. The look of the film with its setting gave the film some realism. The music, mixed with Spanish guitars, moves the story with its melancholy and ebullient tones. “Mondays in the Sun” is a universal film where the common unemployed man or woman can go and see that they are not alone in their plight. What they are facing now is what others are going through as well. But with some hope, and with a little bit of patience and with some friends or family to keep the spirit up, the future looks bright.