*. Seven Sisters (also released as What Happened to Monday) didn’t get a lot of love when it came out and I don’t think it showed up on many people’s radar. I think that’s unfortunate, as it only falls a bit short of being a truly great genre flick.
*. The premise is nothing new. In the near future the world has adopted a strict one-child policy in order to get population under control, enforced by the jackbooted thugs of the C.A.B. (Child Allocation Bureau). Any extra children are packed away in cold storage for later revival (or so we’re told).
*. In addition to being nothing new, this is actually pretty stupid, because even though population is a big problem now, and will be for the next couple of generations, it seems likely that global population is going to decline anyway later this century (with this movie taking place in 2073). Not to mention the fact that less drastic measures than are taken here would more effectively address the problem. But that’s the back story anyway.
*. Into this crowded dystopia the Settman septuplets (all played as adults by Noomi Rapace) are born. Obviously their existence has to be kept secret, so their grandfather (Willem Dafoe) gives them each the name of a different day of the week, which is also the day they alternate being able to leave the house, pretending to be the same girl. Then one day, it’s a Monday, Monday never comes home.
*. As I’ve said, this isn’t a particularly new or even interesting premise. But it introduces what turns into a first-rate mystery SF thriller, as the surviving sisters have to figure out what happend to Monday while being pursued in turn by the C.A.B.
*. Why does the story work so well? In part because the ability for movies to present the same actor on screen at the same time has really advanced, to the point where it’s perfectly seamless here even with all seven girls sitting around the same dinner table interacting. But even more than that I think the big plus is the way the plot allows for many of the sisters to actually get killed as the story advances, giving us the sense that something is really at stake. All too often in movies like this you know the hero is going to survive, which effectively neutralizes suprise and suspense. But here you’re never sure which of the girls is going to make it.
*. That’s a simple idea — seeing the hero actually die — but it’s often such simple ideas that have the biggest payouts. It lets Seven Sisters come at us without pulling any punches, up to the reveal (even if it comes as no surprise) as to what’s happening at the cyro lab.
*. Another big plus is Noomi Rapace, a difficult actor to cast but when she’s right for a part she’s really right. I think she’s great here, and though the sisters are inevitably drawn by way of shorthand (the sexy one, the jock, the nerd, etc.) I thought she gave each of them the necessary credibility.
*. Glenn Close is another actor who seems more and more, at least in hindsight, to occupy a niche. It seems like all of her most memorable roles have been villains: Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, 101 Dalmatians. At least those are the parts that I first think of. So when she shows up here you sort of know what’s going on.
*. I said that it falls a bit short of being a great genre flick, and in a predictable way. What I’m referring to is the ending, which I’ll now say a couple of things about (you’ve been warned).
*. In the first place, I didn’t like how things were wrapped up in such a familiar fashion: the villain exposed by way of a live broadcast video replay, followed by a coda that assures us that life indeed goes on and the survivors will live happily ever after. This felt contrived and inauthentic. I wanted more time spent on Monday’s character and how she turned. That’s the real heart of the movie after all. Close’s character isn’t interesting at all.
*. I also wondered if it would even work out the way it’s shown. Surely the crowd at this swank gala have already figured out what is being done with the frozen children? And even if they hadn’t, would they be all that upset? The future seems a pretty harsh place.
*. Cut out some of the intro and rewrite the end and Seven Sisters would be great. Even as it is, however, it’s still a really good movie, and one that should have found more of an audience.