By Peter Hanson | January 29, 2005

A profoundly unnecessary movie, “The Girl From Monday” is an embarrassment for indie stalwart Hal Hartley. The brainy writer-director who patented a unique style of rat-a-tat dialogue and arty editing with “The Unbelievable Truth” and other lively pictures, Hartley dives even deeper into genre clichés with this bore than he did with “No Such Thing,” his misbegotten spin on “Beauty and the Beast.”
“The Girl From Monday” is a mishmash of “THX 1138,” “Starman,” “1984” and countless other sci-fi tales. The derivative nature of this flick is made all the more glaring because of the pretentious title card that starts the movie: “A Science Fiction by Hal Hartley.” Oy.
The plot is a droning nothing about a future in which evil corporate types have taken over the world, commodifying and homogenizing every part of human life in the process. Oh, and our hero is the conscientious leader of an underground revolutionary movement. And, yeah, wait a minute — the titular character is a childlike alien on some important mission.
The concepts pile on fast and furious, some good and some bad, forming some sort of intellectual traffic jam — but it’s all just so familiar and bland that regurgitating the plot in any greater detail would be excruciating.
As if the lame storyline wasn’t sufficiently dismaying, Hartley exhibits none of his usual directorial panache. He shot the picture on cheap video, then cut it together with a grating mixture of distortion, freeze frames, desaturation and jump cuts. His usually sparkling dialogue falls flat, leading to such numbing declarations as “It was the dictatorship of the consumer now.”
Populating these dull images and speaking these insipid words are a customary Hartley assortment of vapid, pretty WASPs. Diversity, thy name does not bear the initials H.H.
And for some unknown reason, Hartley shot the movie in haphazard locations, nodding to the future with just a few elements of costume and prop design. So, for instance, the hero’s office features a copy of “The Beatles Anthology” on a shelf. Huh? Did anybody clear this through legal?
Hartley’s offbeat sensibility flourishes in a few moments of genuine wit, such as a scene of corporate operators discussing how to turn needless heart surgery into a consumer product, but those flashes are lost amid the empty comings and goings of the unengaging storyline.
In other words, “The Girl From Monday” is as much of a drag as the day named in its title.

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