Screened as part of NZIFF 2002
"A ripely beautiful work by an old mast… Iosseliani, who is 68, began making feature films 40 years ago in the USSR, then emigrated to France, where he continued to hone his technique of assembling wry stories about groups of people, related either by blood or by neighborhood, from observant bits, often unintentionally humorous, or secretive, or odd. Some might see in him a resemblance to Fellini; a closer equivalent would be Jacques Tati, though Iosseliani’s vision of human beings is more mordant and jaundiced. Formally, he is given to longshots and figure-eights that follow first one character, then another. Of late, his compositions have looked particularly handsome, thanks partly to the cinematographer William Lubtchansky, who captures the French light and landscape with unparalleled subtlety.
In Monday Morning, a welder, whose only pleasure in life is Sunday painting, fruitlessly tries to evade the no-smoking rule at the factory; when he gets home his wife bosses him around to make repairs and his children ignore him. In the first half, the film also spies on a neighbor who owns a farm, his shapely wife, a peeping-tom priest, some gypsies, a child who refuses to brush his teeth, a black farmhand who writes love letters to a high-school girl, and several old people moving slowly through the day – rituals are Iosseliani’s great subject. Then the welder takes off without preliminaries and wanders off to Venice, where he falls in with a drinking crowd, gets his pocket picked, and ends up working on a crew not dissimilar from the one he fled. Meanwhile, back home, life goes on: the oldest son makes a hang glider with his girlfriend, the black farmhand marries his heart’s desire, and eventually the welder returns, where he is gratefully accepted back into the family’s routines. Dwelling on the struggle between freedom and repression in bourgeois society, Iosseliani would seem to be arguing for an anarchistic, in vino veritas position, but he is too much the realist to claim it will work out. The penultimate shot is of the son’s hang glider, suggesting freedom, transcendence; the final shot is the factory’s smokestacks, implying all the world’s constraints." — Phillip Lopate, Film Comment