[The following review contains MINOR SPOILERS; YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!]
Back in 2020, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes—Junta Yamaguchi’s immaculately structured single-take extravaganza—set a new standard for time loop stories. While Ryo Takebayashi’s Mondays: See You “This” Week! isn’t quite as stylistically accomplished, it’s still a magnificently crafted comedy.
The plot revolves around a group of exhausted office workers gradually realizing that their shared feelings of déjà vu aren’t merely the result of crunch-induced stress, anxiety, and fatigue; they actually are repeating the same week over and over again. Despite her desperation to break the cycle, however, our central protagonist—an ambitious middle manager who is always looking towards future job prospects—also wants to take advantage of the bizarre situation in order to really refine and perfect the company’s latest advertising campaign; after all, it isn’t often that somebody in her position is handed a literal second (and third, and fourth, and twentieth) chance—the golden opportunity to revise one’s mistakes, no strings attached. The razor-sharp satire doesn’t stop with this biting commentary on the need for a healthy work-life balance, either. Our heroes, for example, are so deeply entrenched in corporate culture that they approach the supernatural conflict as they would any other project: by “running it up the ladder,” with each character that discovers the temporal anomaly subsequently bringing it to the attention of his or her immediate superior only.
Although the tight script (credited to Takebayashi and Saeri Natsuo) undoubtedly establishes the movie’s zany tone, the editing is equally integral to its sense of humor. As in Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Baby Driver, every cut is deliberate and purposeful, creating an almost musical rhythm. The superb sound design reinforces this punchy pacing, with such ambient noises as the incessant buzz of ringing cell phones, the monotonous clickety-clack of keyboards, and the sudden thud of a pigeon crashing into a windowpane punctuating the rapid-fire jokes like exclamation points.
Irreverent, whimsical, and effortlessly entertaining, Mondays is yet another one of those films that epitomizes the quintessential festival experience. What a marvelous way to conclude the most consistently satisfying edition of Japan Cuts to date!*
*Of those that I have personally attended, at least.