Keeping wry company with bewildered members of a skilled working class suddenly rendered obsolete by the shutdown of indigenous industry, this Spanish multiple Goya Award-winner shares affinities with a strain of post-Thatcherite British cinema running from Loach to ‘The Full Monty’. In León de Aranoa’s ambling, episodic third feature, a labour dispute and the lure of cheap production in Korea speed the demise of the local shipyard, and the careers of hundreds of employees. One of the discarded labourers, Rico (Joaquín Climent), uses his severance pay to open a bar – usually empty apart from his unemployed pals, who drink (and drink and drink) for free. Charismatic blowhard Santa (Javier Bardem) entertains prostitutes in his flophouse room and ponders the damp stain on his ceiling, shaped like his longed-for Australia. Mulish Lino (José Angel Egido) keeps up the pretence of finding work, though his age anxiety leads to cheap hair dye and a tragicomic ‘Death in Venice’ moment at the job centre. José (Luis Tosar) idles in seething frustration, much to the resentment of his wife, Ana (Nieve de Medina), who can never manage to scrub away the stink of the canning factory where she toils.
Painted mostly in drab browns and greys, ‘Mondays in the Sun’ doesn’t let much light in. Keenly characterised and daubed with dry humour, the film refuses to sentimentalise economic emasculation or underclass futility – it engineers only the smallest of triumphs for these stymied friends, for whom getting through each day has just started to feel, troublingly, like stubborn habit. Jessica Winter