Lundi matin (2002) Poster

(2002)

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10/10
Otar the Magnificent
groggo11 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Once you can get past the idea that 74-year-old writer-director Otar Iosseliani does not make traditional linear films but exaggerated send-ups of everyday life, you might enjoy his wondrous romps. Iosseliani is a brilliantly funny, understated satirist and deadpan absurdist.

Jacques Tati is one of Iosseliani's influences (as he freely admits), and many quirky Tatiesque touches are in full view in this and other Iosseliani films. His frames are not so much concerned with plot as with people who seem to be frenetically busy while they're actually not doing much of anything at all. This is Iosseliani's view of the world: life as ennui and illusory importance, life filled with people who are not really sure what they're doing on Planet Earth.

Vincent (French actor Jacques Bideau) works in a disgusting chemical plant that belches monstrous clouds of pollutants, yet absolutely no smoking is allowed on the premises. Vincent is a hapless but well-meaning, aspiring painter who's regularly ignored by his rotten kids (they're always telling him to get lost).

Vincent's father (Radslav Kinski) tells him to take a vacation and 'luxuriate' in the great breeding grounds of Western culture, to find the historical roots of our great modern societies. So Vincent goes to Venice, where he and other tourists circle canals in boats, going nowhere and seeing nothing. He climbs a roof with a Venetian, who shows Vincent an array of ancient, grimy factory buildings -- the antithesis of the usually romantic Venetian facade -- and proudly says: 'This is Venice'. Vincent sends postcards of the Pyramids to his mother, who rips them up, not the slightest bit interested. He meets his uncle (Iosseliani himself), who's actually a flamboyant charlatan, a layabout lout pretending to be some kind of 'noble' who records piano music and pretends it is he who is playing.

Vincent returns from his odyssey, having achieved and experienced very little of anything.

No other director in the world is quite like Iosseliani. There are a lot of Brecht's 'distancing' techniques in this Georgian-born director's work. There is relatively little dialogue, and he rarely, if ever, shows close ups -- the screen is always full of characters in long shots who are always trying to do something, or go somewhere, even if it's across the street and back again. The absurdity of human purpose is a recurring motif in Iosseliani's work.

Another important aspect of the director's films is his divergence from the usual centre of cinematic action (i.e. the foreground). This technique was perfected by Jean Renoir in his brilliant 'Rules of the Game'(1939) and partially repeated two years later in 'Citizen Kane'. Since then, the technique has been used to great effect by, especially, Robert Altman. Ioselliani revives it brilliantly here. Many of the great moments in his films -- see for example 1999's Adieu, Plancher des Vaches (Farewell, Home Sweet Home) -- are taking place in the background. This is a reflection of Iosseliani's world view: what happens behind us is often more important than what happens in front of us.

Iosseliani's humour is always understated. There are no slapstick moments in his films -- just flourishes of quirky, off-centre people doing a lot of silly things.

We all live lives of quiet ennui, even as we believe we don't. Life is ultimately a process of movement from one tedious experience to the next. Nobody shows this better, or does this better, than Otar Iosseliani.
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9/10
"Bread and Tulips" for Guys
tonstant viewer23 January 2005
This is a funny, quirky comedy. It is a meditation on work, its rewards and frustrations. A welder in a large, repellent factory gives in to his original ambition of being a painter, and takes off for Venice.

There's a lot of oddball behavior. The story is not terrifically linear, and it's not clear what the main character has learned at the end of his voyage. But you do get to spend time with some charming eccentrics in offbeat situations. And afterward you can puzzle out exactly why the characters behaved the way they did.

It's abominable that this film was never seen in the US. Too many good international movies simply don't make it to our side of the ocean. We can hope that the medium of DVD will improve matters, but this little gem of a picture for one fell right through the cracks.
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9/10
Life goes on.
eldino3311 October 2009
This film is such a rare mixture of place, character and time that one element seems never to upstage the other. The blend is unique and evolves into an organic presentation where each is essentially dependent upon the other. For example,scenes are so impeccably designed that a scene itself becomes a character in time. The blue car, the mud shoes, the factory, the bikes, the flowers, and so on all fit into a carefully crafted philosophical whole which defines temporal existence. This is true of other like scenes, such as the city of Venice or living conditions of the transvestite hatcheck person with the two pet Norway rats. The characters fit perfectly into each scene in the same way that the subjects of Norman Rockwell fit into his paintings. Time becomes the cultural lag which slows down everything, from the chemical factory workers to the boatmen in Venice. Even the most absurd scenes flow into a gentle homogenaity. "Where did you get the crocodile?" Vincent asks his young son as if he were inquiring about an ice cream cone. In the final analysis, Monday Morning is the nonviolent triumph of humanity over contemporary absurdity.
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Defense de Fumeur
hugh19717 June 2005
A quirky, amusing little film about a French factory worker attempting to get away from it all. The factory scenes at the beginning definitely show a strong Jacques Tati influence and the rest of the film is very much a French version of a Mike Leigh film. Like a lot of French films, plot is not particularly important, but the characters and the atmosphere just wash over you.

My favourite characters were the cigarette smoking, sports car driving grandmother and the fat old man in the wheelchair, M. Albert. The scene where his carer pushed him down the hill in his wheelchair was hilarious! If you like gentle, atmospheric foreign films that don't really 'go' anywhere, then this one is for you.
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8/10
why reviewers ask foolish questions?
archil16 July 2006
This great film by Ioseliani was reviewed by many amateurs on this site, and, perhaps, that is why, I'm writing this short review. What Ioseliani offers is not simply a social commentary or an act of rebellion against every day life, but an evocative examination of monotonous, lonely state of being deprived of basic human necessities(such as friends... and so many other elements.) Characters are lonely despite of their social standings and "forbidding" rules oppress everybody, as well.("No smoking" at factories, "no drinking" in households and so on.) In this film everything is done for a reason and everything makes sense; if some reviewers don't think so, I would suggest them to watch the film one more time or to start writing reviews for other films... there are so many on this website.
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9/10
One of the finest films of one of the finest directors
cdiuk19 November 2003
This comment answers the previous one.

The reason Iosseliani "forgets" about the wife and kids is because that's exactly what's happening to the main character.

And Iosseliani is "basic"?? The film is pure poetry, the scenes in the factory are like nothing I've seen before.
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7/10
So typically French!
dhvinyl9 June 2005
This just popped up on BBC 4, a digital station in the UK and the review tempted me. Had no really idea what it was all about but was fascinated throughout. The French know how to let a movie take its course without heavy editing and cutting. Very little dialogue yet you sink straight into the rut and routine of life in a tiny French village; and then the contrast of the romance of Venice. The characters are well defined, and I loved the way the family children looked after the grandparents, while the husband - the central character - seemed to live just for his cigarettes. The realisation that working life is much the same anywhere sent him home where he's received as if he'd never been gone! Anyone who's seen "Etre & Avoir" will feel right at home with this.
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7/10
Sullivan's Travels
writers_reign21 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I can't help feeling that some of the people who've commented on this are asking this director to be something he's not - he is, by the way, Georgian, not French, although his last few films were made in France. He does tend to meander and more or less hit upon an idea and let it lead him where it will which may be hard to take for those - myself included - who are more at home with a well-made script that boasts a beginning, a middle and an end. But he also has charm, a commodity in short supply these days and practically non-existent in Hollywood. In some ways our protagonist is directly related to Preston Sturges' Sullivan except that Sullivan was an affluent movie director who went slumming and OUR hero is a working stiff with a dream. In both cases they wound up back at home like Dorothy and Toto but no one can take the JOURNEY away from them and that's what it's all about.
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7/10
interesting, but way too long
Rene Schmidig12 May 2002
This movie tells the story of factory worker living somewhere in the French countryside. He has a wife and two kids who do not really love him, so one day he goes for a trip to Italy where he meets some buddies and drinks a lot. At the end he is coming back to his village. Thats about it, the story is sometimes interesting to follow as the characters are real, but it is also boring at times. Absolutely no movie for the typical blockbuster audience.
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3/10
It isn't possible to write a spoiler for this film
jaime-carron15 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I actually bought this film. It really looked my cup of tea from everything I'd read about it. But I have to say that I found it really very dull. Much of the film is spent observing people going about their everyday business, with not really much thread of a story or build in the narrative, passion or even one thing having much consequence on anything else.

I've read some comments that say the film is very poetic. I'm afraid to say, it's not my kind of poetry. It feels almost designed to make you feel bored, almost like you should suffer along with the rest of the people who live in the boring French village. In this way, I almost felt the director didn't care about the people who might be watching the film, almost like he's saying, "this life is so boring, you need to really FEEL the dull banality for yourself'.

I also found the colours of the film very dark, so it was difficult to tell one character apart from another. This may just be my copy though.

I have read many positive and fine reviews of this film, so perhaps I am just out of kilter with the rest of the world. But for me it was the film equivalent of being a bored teenager stuck in the house on a wet Sunday.
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5/10
Smoking or not smoking?
Fredericmignard24 February 2002
The film's main character is fed up with his dreary life, that's why he decides to give up everything, his wife, kids and his job for a few weeks away during which he'll be able to smoke and drink to forget his condition and finds himself again.

He claims his right for smoking after such a long time of deprivation. Smoking becomes an act of rebellion and numerous are the characters who act that way. Quite funny. The whole film is a comedy as most of the cast is singular and absolutely ludicrous.

But what could have been a nice film becomes more or less wasted by the director unability to give substance to his characters whom he forgets without any reason. What happens to the main protagonist's wife and kids for almost an hour is just a mystery. Frustrating and needless as they first appeared as leading parts.

And the direction is so primary and limited!

Why does that film last two hour is another mystery as it finally brings us nothing upsetting, except a few really funny moments.
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6/10
Yawn ...
WriConsult25 February 2003
The cinematography is very nice, with vivid shots of Venice and the french countryside, and the characters have the potential to be quite interesting. But the characters are about 80% developed to the point where we'd really care about them, and the whole thing doesn't tie together very well. Plus the pace is maddeningly slow. Message to the director: We get the point! It's hard for me to hate this film, but I can't rave about it either.
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