Monday

Sabu's frenetic chase films resemble Rube Goldberg constructs where knocking over one domino activates a complex series of improbable events that build with uninterrupted momentum. But in Monday, his most recent outing, all the dominoes have already collapsed around our hero, Tagaki, a clueless company man who, waking up in a hotel room he doesn't recognize, must reconstruct his lost weekend. After much reflection, and with the aid of a pack of “purification salts” he finds in his pocket, he's able to flash back to a day that started with an exploding corpse and went downhill from there. All of his many misfortunes can be traced to his prodigious consumption of alcohol and a chance encounter with guns. This has caused many critics to laud the film's antialcohol, antigun message (a message the film occasionally, and very sardonically, espouses), giving Sabu's scattershot action a “meaningful” context. But far more interesting than any sociological agenda are the changes in tone and tempo created by a chronologically split point of view. Darkly comic scenes of violence Tagaki remembers from the recent past—a roomful of thugs paralyzed with wonder as he, giggling madly, accidentally blows away the heir apparent to a yakuza clan—alternate with his appalled, hungover reactions in the present. Things get further complicated when he learns he didn't wake up after the action but in the middle of it, and film's time sense now includes not only the future but the conditional. By far Sabu's most ambitious film, this is also the only one that doesn't exhaust its own possibilities. 100 min.

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