Movies you might have missed: “Mondays in the Sun”

Mondays In The Sun
Directed by Fernando León de Aranoa
2002, 113 mins., Rated R, Spanish with English subtitles

Long term unemployment is a human condition common under capitalism. It is marked by desperation, loneliness and a loss of hope in the future.  It is a life all too familiar to the average American at the present time.  However one of the films that captures it the best was made in Spain in 2002.

Mondays In The Sun opens with scenes of riot police trying to clear the streets of striking shipyard workers.  We then pick up on the lives of the workers after the smoke clears and the film focuses on three.  The character Jose stays at home seething as his wife burns out working a monotonous job at a fish cannery, and their domestic life is soon marked by tension and bitterness.  Lino, the oldest of the three, relentlessly purses new job opportunities and in one desperate act dyes his hair black and borrows clothes from the wardrobe of his son in an attempt to appear younger and thus more appealing to job interviewers. Lastly is Santa, who, with a rough charisma and an easy banter that often includes obscure words and odd trivia, spends part of his days in casual romantic adventures.  Santa also posses the sharpest class consciousness of the three and one evening lays out for the others how when workers are divided they are always doomed to failure and when jobs are lost they are not only to the present, but to future generations as well.

During their idle days they battle government bureaucrats, courts and bank loan officers.  They also manage to take in the occasional soccer match, watching from the roof of a nearby construction site that overlooks half of the field of play, leaving the other half to their imagination. They also spend hours on a ferryboat appropriately named “Lady España.” Mostly they hold up in a bar, managed by one of their former comrades and scheme on how to scrape by, and, most importantly, they look after one another the best they can.

Considering the narrative of the film, the on-location shooting in this Spanish seaside town could hardly be described as romantic, but the film is not without its charm. The lilting gentle score nicely compliments the colors of the docks and harbor. Despite the often-depressing vignettes of the characters’ plight, the story is ultimately one of the pride and dignity of the working class.  A dignity that runs deep, far beyond the reach of heartless capitalist exploitation.