I have a vague recollection of the beginning of a cult following of director Hal Hartley, from the time I left Hungary (1995). As I recall a lot of my friend, i.e. young, generally poor, but well educated intelligentsia from Budapest suddenly started to talk about (and like) his movies. I left too soon to see any of them before I left. And in the US I forgot about him. (A few years ago I rented his No Such Thing though. Quick check. Oops I did write about that here. Apparently even then I mentioned his cult-like status. At least my memory did not change. Except that I forgot that I already covered this point….)
When I saw in the science-fiction aisle of the video rental store that The Girl From Monday was directed by him I was happy to pick it up. It was exciting both visually and content-wise. The subdued style, using blurry slow moving pictures reminded me of La Jetée. The scenery of the not-too-distant future was only sketched for us and not expounded into every little detail. Instead of getting a vision, where every little device or piece of artifact is (re-)designed to suit an imaginary world we are presented with one that looks almost exactly like hours. But looks don’t even matter, people and values do. This way (only having a distant sense of future) we, the viewers are prompted to focus on the world of ideas. This is also encouraged with the heavy use of narration.
When the movie was over I felt that I not only need to re-read Thoreau’s Walden, but also the script of the movie. They former was a major theme and driving force in the movie and not having the clearest memory of it impedes my understanding the deeper message from the movie. For which I would need to read the latter or re-watch the movie with the pictures turned off, listening only to the narration. Either way I was left with the impetus to spend more time with it, to explore the concepts it delved into.
The main trick is a reversal of values. Extending the interconnection of consumer satisfaction and buying power to the extreme we are placed in a world where a marketing guy’s idea of staying unattached after sexual encounters is turned into a revolution of society. It is a revolution, because suddenly whole society accepts this gimmick that helps people who want to sell things. Well, almost everybody, because there is a small band of counter-revolutionaries who do not make their sex lives part of the market. They just do it for fun. Meanwhile there is an unusual girl (and possibly more people) who appear in the ocean from another planet. As she learns to communicate with humans and gets involved in our web she is slowly loosing the ability to return. Or does she? I won’t tell more of the plot, partly because it is open to interpretation what exactly happened. Whatever it was or will be the movie sends the strong message of separating personal and consumer life. It also makes us question what subversive is? The foreign or the inner, the dictated or the innate. Good things to ponder upon.