Warning: Major film spoilers ahead.
Noomi Rapace plays seven characters in Netflix’s new film, What Happened to Monday, but that’s not even the wildest part about this project. Nope, that honor goes to the Child Allocation Bureau, a government branch responsible for making sure families have only one child in their households. The goal of this entity is to “fix” the world’s overpopulation issue, which has reached critical mass in 2073, the year this film takes place. And what happens to the excess siblings, you ask? They’re killed—but the families don’t know that.
This is a dystopian movie, if you couldn’t tell, and it’s a good one. It’s also a movie about survival and determination and sisterhood—seven sisters, specifically. All played by Rapace.
If you’re scratching your head, here’s some background info: A genetic mutation causes a woman to give birth to seven children, which is bad because of the Child Allocation Bureau I mentioned earlier. If the government finds out about her children, six of them will be taken away. So after she dies in the hospital, her father (Willem Dafoe) takes the kids into hiding. He names each child after a day of the week—and when they get older he lets them go out once a week. Monday can leave the house Monday, Tuesday on Tuesday—you get the idea.
But here’s the catch: When the sisters are outside, they have to fool the world into thinking they’re one person named Karen Settman. They have to wear a wig and walk the same and talk the same. If they don’t, the government might realize more than one person is living in their house—and I already told you what happens in that case.
At the head of this totalitarian regime is Nicolette Cayman, played brilliantly (and terrifyingly) by Glenn Close. When she gets wind of the seven siblings, a manhunt ensues for all of them but one. Those are the rules, after all.
You can probably guess what happens next: lots of fighting, blood, and yes, death. (Sorry, but not all the sisters make it to the end of the film.) These scenes are exciting and adrenaline-pumping, sure, but they’re something even more important: empowering—especially for women. The seven sisters outsmart their techno-savvy government by working together—using their strengths to stay one step ahead of the violent dudes hot on their tails.
In one particularly chilling scene, three men with scary guns lure five of the sisters out of hiding. The dudes laugh at the sisters and make some disparaging comments about them. Right as you think it’s all over, though, one of the physically astute sisters takes a shot at the head lunkhead, and a full-out brawl begins, ending in the death of all the men hired to kill them. Granted, this isn’t a fully victorious moment—one of the sisters, unfortunately, also dies—but it establishes the tone of the film. On some level, this movie shows what good can happen when women join forces.
It also shows what happens when they’re adversaries. This entire blood bath began in the first place because one of the sisters—I won’t tell you which—made a seedy deal with the government. She quite literally betrayed her sisters, and the result was carnage. Lots of it. The message isn’t exactly subtle—but it’s powerful.
And the film’s references to The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Orphan Black aren’t subtle either. Nicolette Cayman is eerily similar to Jeanine Matthews, the dictator who had a bone to pick with Tris in Divergent; the sisters’ fighting style has distinct Katniss Everdeen shades; and, as I mentioned earlier, Rapace takes on seven. different. roles. That’s Tatiana Maslany AF.
What Happened to Monday still has its own identity, though. For one, it’s scary. Like, genuinely scary. (The Hunger Games and Divergent are great, but they won’t keep you up at night.) But it’s that theme of sisterhood that really sets Monday apart from its peers. Katniss and Tris are great female protagonists, but they’re the only ones in their respective stories. Their narratives are inextricably linked to the male characters. In What Happened to Monday, the males take a backseat to the badassery of Karen Settman. Times seven. Whoever said there’s power in numbers was absolutely right.
What Happened to Monday is streaming on Netflix right now. Go watch!