Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

What Happened To Monday?

(UK, USA, Belgium, France), 2017)

Noomi Rapace plays identical septuplets. They are named Monday, Tuesday Wednesday … you get the idea, in a future world where over-population, crop failures, and climate change have led to a policy of one child per family. Siblings are illegal, and the younger one has to go into the deep freeze to “wait for a better time.” Yeah, right, tell me another one. Clearly things are never going to get better. The sisters have survived for 30 years by sharing a single identity that goes out of their apartment while the other six stay home. Clearly this is a tricky thing to do. One Monday, Monday goes out and doesn’t return. When they are discovered, they get picked off one by one until … I won’t say how many survive. It’s a good film, an action thriller that uses Noomi’s considerable physical talents and intensity. It was made from an original script by Max Botkin that, I have learned, was on the 2010 Blacklist of best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood.

Anyway, that’s the movie. Now what I want to do is compare two of my favorite actresses, Noomi Rapace and Tatiana Maslany. Noomi was totally stunning in the original Swedish The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Tatiana finally won a well-deserved Emmy for her work the Little Canadian Show That Could, Orphan Black. (For my money, she should have won five of them, every year.)
What do they have in common? Tatiana played eight main characters, clone sisters, over five seasons, almost 38 hours of TV. She commonly played two characters in one scene, several times played three characters, and three times played four of them. Noomi has many scenes with three, four, five, and even all seven in the same frame, interacting.

Orphan Black never attempted putting more than four clones in the same scene. The reason was simple. The high-tech camera used for stuff like that was expensive, and a huge time-consumer, and they just didn’t have the budget. So Noomi had a big advantage there, in that even though a budget of $20 million is considered a pittance these days in Hollywood, it’s a hell of a lot more than a small Canadian show would ever have. The scenes with multiple Noomis are seamless and well done.

But as far as plot and especially characterization goes, it is all Tatiana, hands down. Noomi had only a few scenes to establish seven characters, all in two hours, and I could barely tell one from the other. Not her fault. It just can’t be done. Tatiana had much more time, of course, and created no less than eight fully-developed and totally distinct main characters (and a dozen cameos) so well that many times I totally forgot that it was the same person playing both characters in a scene. I’m serious, I really forgot. In the last episode Helena, a very strange Ukrainian ex-assassin, is giving birth, and Sarah, the main character, is helping deliver the babies. Imagine that. She has to react to her acting double (Katherine Alexandre, a woman who Maslany never failed to praise to the skies in interviews), both of them in an intense emotional scene … and then do it again, and again, and again. That must have been a very intense two days of shooting. Tatiana Maslany is the best actress of her generation, for my money.