Miss Monday

Entering Gloria's house unbeknownst to her, Roman examines her books, clothes and photographs and reads her diary, mentally piecing together a life for her beyond the career-driven facade she presents to the world. When she returns home unexpectedly, he hides in the closet and observes through a crack in the door. The painful reality of the woman's life proves far more compelling than anything the chastened Roman could have imagined.

With:
Gloria ..... Andrea Hart Roman ..... James Hicks Steven ..... Alex Giannini Debbie ..... Louise Barrett Marianne ..... Julie Alanagh-Brighten Jeremy ..... Nick Moran Glaswegian thesp Andrea Hart deservedly won an acting award at Sundance earlier this year for her harrowing role as a tough career woman given to bulimic binging in North American director Benson Lee's London-set feature debut , "Miss Monday." But while her performance gives the film some tangible dramatic rewards, the clumsily incompatible, smugly comic tone of a cumbersome framing device in which a screenwriter searches for real-life inspiration all but kills it. This drama about the intersection between fiction and reality may land some fest play and cable dates but is too uneven to make a theatrical mark. Rather too sure of its own cleverness, the screenplay by director Lee, Richard Morel and Paul Leyden starts in a jokey, noirish vein, shot in grainy b&w. Frustrated writer Roman (James Hicks) hammers away at his typewriter, attempting to breathe life into his female lead, Marianne (Julie Alanagh-Brighten), a gorgeous, successful businesswoman, who has fought her way to the top in a man's world. However, his attempts at serious social drama keep taking a farcical --- but relentlessly unfunny --- turn. Switching to color, Roman wakes from the dream to find himself at a creative standstill. He seeks help from his mentor, who advises him to don a corporate disguise and infiltrate the financial district in search of a model. .....Hicks' unappealing performance in a glibly written role combined with the generally miscalculated tone make this establishing section something of an endurance test , despite Lee's attempts to jazz it up with lots of fast-motion sequences and quick cutting. But Roman's first collision with Gloria (Hart) --- during which she significantly drops her cellphone and house key --- marks a turning point after which the film steadily improves.

Entering Gloria’s house unbeknownst to her, Roman examines her books, clothes and photographs and reads her diary, mentally piecing together a life for her beyond the career-driven facade she presents to the world. When she returns home unexpectedly, he hides in the closet and observes through a crack in the door. The painful reality of the woman’s life proves far more compelling than anything the chastened Roman could have imagined.

The film makes intelligent points about deceptive appearances, stereotypes, voyeurism and privacy, and the pressures of a competitive world.

But while Lee’s attempt to maneuver between contrasting styles represents a commendably risky, bold approach for a first-time director, the drama’s impact ultimately is diluted by everything that surrounds and distracts from Hart’s unflinching turn.

An experienced stage performer in her first film role, the actress brings potency and a dark sense of exposure to Gloria’s disturbing solo seduction games and her trance-like, progressively more distraught ritual of gorging and throwing up, made even more pathetic by the crisply efficient removal of the evidence the following morning.

Miss Monday

(DRAMA -- U.S.-JAPANESE-BRITISH)

Production: A Lakeshore Intl. presentation of a Mondo Paradiso Films (U.S.)/Sunny Side Up (Japan)/Metropolitan Films (U.K.) production. (International sales: Lakeshore Intl., Los Angeles.) Produced by Steve Smith. Executive producer, Keiko Takahashi. Co-producer, Benson Lee. Directed by Benson Lee. Screenplay, Lee, Richard Morel, Paul Leyden. Camera (b&w, color), Mike Coles; editor, Tula Goenka; music, Woody Pak; production designer, Julian Weaver; art director, Lee Robinson; costume designer, Julian Day; sound (Dolby), Ian Richardson; associate producers, Robert Seigel, John Chun; assistant director, James Murphy; casting, Benson Lee, Steve Smith. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 19, 1998. (Also in Sundance Film Festival.) Running time: 90 MIN.

With: Gloria ..... Andrea Hart Roman ..... James Hicks Steven ..... Alex Giannini Debbie ..... Louise Barrett Marianne ..... Julie Alanagh-Brighten Jeremy ..... Nick Moran Glaswegian thesp Andrea Hart deservedly won an acting award at Sundance earlier this year for her harrowing role as a tough career woman given to bulimic binging in North American director Benson Lee's London-set feature debut , "Miss Monday." But while her performance gives the film some tangible dramatic rewards, the clumsily incompatible, smugly comic tone of a cumbersome framing device in which a screenwriter searches for real-life inspiration all but kills it. This drama about the intersection between fiction and reality may land some fest play and cable dates but is too uneven to make a theatrical mark. Rather too sure of its own cleverness, the screenplay by director Lee, Richard Morel and Paul Leyden starts in a jokey, noirish vein, shot in grainy b&w. Frustrated writer Roman (James Hicks) hammers away at his typewriter, attempting to breathe life into his female lead, Marianne (Julie Alanagh-Brighten), a gorgeous, successful businesswoman, who has fought her way to the top in a man's world. However, his attempts at serious social drama keep taking a farcical --- but relentlessly unfunny --- turn. Switching to color, Roman wakes from the dream to find himself at a creative standstill. He seeks help from his mentor, who advises him to don a corporate disguise and infiltrate the financial district in search of a model. .....Hicks' unappealing performance in a glibly written role combined with the generally miscalculated tone make this establishing section something of an endurance test , despite Lee's attempts to jazz it up with lots of fast-motion sequences and quick cutting. But Roman's first collision with Gloria (Hart) --- during which she significantly drops her cellphone and house key --- marks a turning point after which the film steadily improves.

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