In Netflix’s new film “What Happened to Monday,” writers Max Botkin and Kerry Williamson collaborated with director Tommy Wirkola, who worked on “Dead Snow,” to depict what they believe might happen to the Earth if nothing is done to reverse climate change.
Here’s the breakdown. The film begins by reminding viewers of the massive population boom that has taken place in the last century, before then jumping to 2073, where the world’s population has doubled. With so many people to feed, food slowly grows scarce.
“In the last 50 years, we’ve doubled our population, tripled the amount of food and water we use and we have quadrupled the use of fossil fuels,” the film begins. “Every four days, there’s a million more people on the planet.”
In the film, this lack of food spurs European countries to make rash decisions, which leads them to embrace artificially grown food. However, as a result of genetic modifications gone wrong, humans become prone to multiple births or genetic defects. The narrator then intones, “The solution is now feeding the problem.”
To cope, politician Dr. Nicolette Cayman introduces the idea of the “one child per family” rule, known as the “Child Allocation Act” in the film, which states that if you had more than one child, the younger siblings would be put to sleep through cryogenics until the world would become more habitable. To ensure people were following these regulations, the government issued bracelets that could be scanned in order to identify people at various checkpoints throughout cities. When scanned, the bracelets present your face and information, along with data that states if you have a sibling or not. If another sibling is present, police are informed and, upon arrival, take the child away to be put to rest.
This is where things become interesting. Not long into the movie, we are introduced to the grandfather, William Dafoe, of seven children. After losing his daughter to childbirth, he wants his daughter’s legacy to continue on. To do so, he raises the children secretly in his apartment, an illegal act he manages to keep concealed from the government. In order to keep their identities secret, the technologically inclined Defoe creates seven bracelets under the same identity of Karen Settman, the children’s mother’s name.
While in the comfort of their own home, the children go by names in the order of which they were born, and since there were seven, they are named Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc., all the way to Sunday. On whichever day of the week it was, that child would go out for the day under the alias of Settman. However, when one of the sisters goes missing, the children go on a journey to see “What Happened to Monday.” In doing so, they begin to unravel the secrets that are hidden within their government and the Child Allocation Act.
The biggest hypothetical “What Happened to Monday” examines is how, within just a few decades, overpopulation will begin to affect the lives of millions across the globe. The idea that the Earth gains another million people every four days might sound asinine, but it helps get the message across. In fact, it brings up an important question: What must be done in order to combat overpopulation?
In the film, governments solve the problem by greenlighting genetically modified foods and implementing a version of universal birth control. Introducing a government that takes the “by any means necessary” approach challenges viewers to imagine what real governments will do to preserve the future. Obviously, people in positions of power do not want to see others die, so what should they do? What would you do? “What Happened to Monday,” then, uses a fictional guise to tackle the very real topics of population control, food preservation and hierarchy of human value.
Actress Noomi Rapace (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) delivers an awesome performance, taking over several different personalities. Her role as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday show the everyday life of people living in this future, having to hide order to survive. “What Happened to Monday” revolves around complex issues, and it’s imperative to look at the film through an analytical lens and understand its importance.